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Insurance companies reconsider 'dated' policies for suicide attempts, Frank Zinatelli on The National


Release Date: 02/29/2016
Source: CBC News The National
Staff Reference:
Frank Zinatelli

Watch the interview online

PETER MANSBRIDGE (HOST):

Well, changes are coming at some of Canada’s insurance companies after a CBC Newsinvestigation. In December, we told you many health insurance policies include provisions that can deny coverage to people who have attempted suicide. Even a language in the policy seemed insensitive. Our senior investigative correspondent Diana Swain uncovered that story and she’s got the latest.

DIANA SWAIN (SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT):

Mark Warder often travels for work, but last year while on business in the United States, he was suffering from a severe bout of depression. He decided to kill himself by swallowing a handful of pills. He was taken to hospital and five days later released to go home with a bill for more than 10,000 dollars. That’s when he learned his company insurance plan wouldn’t cover any cost connected with attempted suicide.

MARK WARDER (INSURANCE POLICYHOLDER):

(Mississauga, Ontario) It’s kind of, we’re glad you made it but sorry for your luck, you know? Here’s the bill. So it’s kind of a slap in the face.

DIANA SWAIN (SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT):

Warder’s experience mirrors what a CBC News investigation revealed last December, that millions of Canadians who have disability or critical illness insurance coverage through work may not realize they aren’t covered if they attempt suicide. That’s in spite of a growing effort to end the stigma around depression which is often at the root of those attempts. Even the language seems surprising. Several policies refer to people as “sane” or “insane.” Now the insurance industry says prompted by our CBC News investigation, it’s taking a serious look at those clauses and making some changes. This language will now be erased as policies are renewed, and the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association says the industry as a whole is reviewing those clauses “in keeping with both the industry’s and Canadian society’s focus on responding to mental health issues in a fair, progressive and compassionate basis.”

FRANK ZINATELLI (CANADIAN LIFE & HEALTH INSURANCE ASSOCIATION):

I can tell you that at least more than half of the respondents are making some changes which I think are very positive changes.

DIANA SWAIN (SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT):

Compassion is something Warder feels he didn’t get from his insurance company. He’s speaking out now to push the industry to treat those struggling with mental health like people struggling with any other health problem.

MARK WARDER (INSURANCE POLICYHOLDER):

Let’s face it, most people if they have gone through this and it gets turned down, yeah, they don’t have the motivation to fight it. I have it in me to speak up.

DIANA SWAIN (SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT):

Diana Swain, CBC News, Toronto.