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Do you have faith in travel insurance?

 Anna Friesen’s hospital bill totalled more than $50,000 US. (CBC)An elderly B.C. couple’s struggle with its insurance provider over a travel insurance claim is prompting greater calls for transparency by the insurance industry.

Artur and Anna Friesen, of Abbotsford, were travelling in the U.S. when Anna had to be hospitalized. The couple had bought insurance before their trip and was told by the hospital that Anna’s stay would be covered.

But their insurance provider, Prime Link Travel Medical Insurance, later refused to pay the Friesens’ $51,125 US hospital bill, saying Anna provided “misstatements” on her policy application.

In the end, the debate comes down to the word “treatment.”

While Anna admits to having weak kidneys, she’s never received official treatment for them – a fact to which many doctors have attested on her behalf.

But Prime Link’s David Rivelis, the Friesens’ insurance agent, said even when a customer’s doctor states they are not being treated for a condition, the adjuster’s interpretation can supersede that.

“The insurance company ultimately determines the term of the contract,” said Rivelis. “How the doctor defines something may be different from how it’s defined by an insurance company.”

Jim Bullock, an independent broker who helps lawyers who are going after insurance companies, says he thinks application forms are intentionally ambiguous. He would like to see provincial authorities hold insurance companies more accountable.

Do you have faith in travel insurance? How closely do you read the fine print when applying for travel insurance? Do you even buy travel insurance? Why or why not?

Do you buy health insurance when you travel?
(This survey is not scientific. Results are based on readers’ responses.)

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