Manulife in spotlight for mental health claim denial

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The Canadian media has reported on the case of a businessman from Toronto who said his travel insurance claim with Manulife was denied when he cancelled his trip because of his mental health condition. The unnamed man has bi-polar disorder and suffers from anxiety and panic attacks.

Broadcaster CTV News Toronto said that when the man purchased his CAN$6,000 trip, he also took out a trip cancellation policy costing $600. However, because of increasing anxiety and mood disorders as the trip approached, the man’s doctor advised him to cancel. He submitted the doctor’s letter to Manulife, but the insurer said it would not pay out as mental disorders to do not qualify as medical conditions under the company policy, the channel explained.

CTV said that a Manulife spokesperson told the man: “We will not pay for losses for…an emotional or mental disorder (except an acute psychosis) that does not require admission to a hospital.”

The Toronto traveller is currently appealing with the ombudsman. “I figured I was covered like anybody else,” he said, “like any normal human being without mental illness issues.”

There is increasing pressure for insurers around the world to review their policies on mental health issues following the case of Australian woman, Ella Ingram. The 21-year-old successfully sued the travel insurance company QBE after it had denied her claim when she was forced to cancel her trip due to depression. The Court found that the insurance company, in denying coverage for mental health issues, had breached the Equal Opportunities Act. Ms Ingram recovered her travel costs plus AUS$15,000 in compensation.