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Insurance company drops 'discriminatory' policy on suicide attempts


Release Date: 03/30/2016
Source: CBC News
Staff Reference: Frank Zinatelli

Desjardins Group becomes first insurer confirmed to have removed controversial clause from benefits plan

Marnie Luke

One of Canada's leading insurance providers has agreed to change its policy of denying benefit payments to people who try to kill or injure themselves.

Effective immediately, Desjardins Group is removing a contentious exclusion clause from the employee benefits plan of at least one of its clients, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto.

"This is a very sensitive issue," said André Chapleau, a strategic adviser with Desjardins, noting that its other clients have yet to be informed the clause is being removed from "certain group policies."

A recent CBC News investigation found similar exclusions exist in virtually all other Canadian group and individual insurance plans, denying payment for costs associated with suicide attempts or intentionally self-inflicted injuries, whether, as some policy state, the person is "sane or insane" at the time.

The Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA), which represents the majority of insurance companies in Canada, said CBC's revelations prompted it to take "serious steps to move this issue forward."

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