Oh, the things travel insurance companies do to weasel out of a claim.
If you don’t believe me, talk to Dawn Walker, who contacted our advocacy team when CSA Insurance turned down her claim after her father-in-law suffered a breakdown on a trip to Greece.
Now, here’s how travel insurance is supposed to work. Hang on, maybe I should just let CSA do the talking:
Protect yourself for emergency expenses, including:
- Necessary medical, surgical, or emergency dental care if you or a travel companion become sick or accidentally injured on your trip
- Emergency transportation to the nearest suitable medical facility
- Help to return home and more
Actually, they should have said, less.
Walker and her entire extended family — a total of nine people — decided they needed CSA’s protection in their trip to Greece. “This company was recommended to us through our travel agent at Vacations to Go,” she says.
But things went south when they arrived in Greece.
“My father-in-law became extremely disoriented, confused and agitated two days into our trip,” she explains. “We called a doctor to the hotel and after an examination, the doctor was concerned that my father-in-law might have had a stroke and recommended that we get a CT scan done.”
By this time, Walker knew she had to document everything. She asked the Greek doctor to offer a written diagnosis. It recommended a brain CT scan and neurological evaluation as an emergency. The MD prescribed Xanax, a drug used to treat anxiety disorders, panic disorders, and anxiety caused by depression. He also wrote the words “anxiety” in the diagnosis.
“We were shocked when they told us that they were rejecting our claim,” she says. “Their explanation was that unless my father-in-law actually had a stroke or another physical ailment, they would not cover this claim.”
Sadly, Walker has two strikes against her in this claim, and they’re both worth noting. CSAs underwriters require that someone filing a claim have a diagnosed illness. That’s not unique to CSA; it’s an industry standard.
Also, most travel insurance doesn’t include mental disorders such as anxiety or depression. When the Greek doctor wrote “anxiety” on the diagnosis, he made it almost impossible to file a successful claim.
Our advocates reviewed this case carefully and urged Walker to appeal her case to the highest level.
There’s no doubt that Walker’s father-in-law became ill on his vacation and needed to come home. That’s why Walker and her family purchased travel insurance. They thought they were covered.
This is becoming an all-too-common refrain. Maybe it’s time for sensible regulation to stop travel companies from discriminating against mental health complaints. But that’s a subject for another story.
After numerous appeals, CSA honored the claim. Had Walker not been so persistent, she would have lost everything.
Legally, CSA probably didn’t have to do anything with her appeal except say “no.” Maybe that’s the real problem.