An 84-year-old Toronto man, stranded in Germany, faces a $150,000 medical bill after RBC Insurance canceled his policy.
On December 1, Ali Davari was travelling from Cologne to Frankfurt to catch his return flight to Canada, when he fell. Later that day, he ended up in a hospital for surgery to repair bleeding in his head.
Davari remains in a medically-induced coma in Frankfurt. His son Kevin told The Roy Green Show that medication keeping his father in a deep sleep has been reduced, meaning that he may soon regain consciousness.
German doctors are recommending that Davari be transported immediately to Canada for further medical care before he wakes up. If he comes to before leaving Germany, he will be required to remain in Frankfurt to undergo 2 – 3 months of rehab, resulting in increased medical costs.
“Honestly I don’t know what to do,” Kevin told Global News’ Sean O’Shea, whom he contacted as a last resort, after being told by RBC Insurance that his father’s travel health policy was cancelled. “The travel insurance… is denying any assistance after they found out about the airlift cost.”
Family Purchased Insurance From RBC Insurance Before Trip
Davari’s daughter purchased out-of-country “gold” medical coverage for her father from RBC Insurance before he embarked on his one-week trip to Europe. She answered a medical questionnaire on his behalf.
After Davari’s Dec. 1 incident was reported, RBC Insurance declined the policy, and refused to pay any and all medical costs, including a medical evacuation to Canada. The insurance company indicated that the questionnaire was filled out incorrectly.
“We are very sorry to hear that Mr. Davari was hospitalized and we sympathize with his family during this difficult time. While we can’t comment on this particular claim because of privacy rules, we do want to let our clients know that we fully investigate all claims and make decisions consistently and fairly. In fact, RBC Insurance pays 98 per cent of all travel claims,” wrote Greg Skinner, corporate communications director with RBC Insurance, to Sean O’Shea at Global News. “The vast majority of our clients complete the questionnaire correctly, receive the coverage they need and pay the correct premiums for their coverage.”
According to Kevin Davari, RBC Insurance claims that they denied coverage because his father is diabetic, a medical condition previously unknown to the family.
However, doctors in Germany argue that Ali Davari does not, in fact, suffer from diabetes.
“We are standing between two different [medical opinions],” said Kevin. “Going through the whole procedure in order to resolve the problem is going to take a very long time.”
Fighting an insurance company over a denied claim does take time, which is a luxury that many Canadians – like Kevin and his father – don’t have when medical issues occur.
“From an options standpoint, people like Kevin and his family, they’re stuck,” insurance and injury lawyer Sivan Tumarkin told The Roy Green Show. “The government is not going to bring Ali home, and the insurance company isn’t stepping up. There’s no regulatory remedy here, which is very disturbing.”
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‘Million Dollar Baby” Case
Tumarkin, who is partner at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP in Toronto, reveals that Insurance claim denials, by RBC Insurance and other companies, are more common than people realize.
“After selling the policy and depositing the premiums, insurance companies will request their client’s medical records after a claim is made,” Tumarkin noted. “Insurers will then compare the medical documentation with the answers provided in the questionnaire filled out during the application process. They will then attempt to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions, or a change in the client’s health after completing the questionnaire.”
An insurance company will then argue that had they known about a pre-existing condition, they would likely not have approved the policy.
Tumarkin recalls that the same tactic was used in the ‘Million-dollar baby” case in 2014. A Saskatchewan couple faced a $950,000 medical bill after their daughter was born premature during a trip to Hawaii. Saskatchewan Blue Cross refused to honour their travel insurance, arguing that the mother’s bladder infection during pregnancy constituted a pre-existing condition.
“People are told to buy travel insurance, for peace of mind. Sometimes what they get is the exact opposite,” noted Tumarkin.
Medical Bill Could Rise Further
Ali Davari’s medical bills are set to climb higher. He will be undergoing more surgery on Tuesday, December 19th due to medical complications brought on by his coma.
The Davari family has set up a GoFundMe page in an effort to raise funds to cover Ali’s medical costs.
“Honestly, we don’t know what to do,” admits Kevin.
“The only thing we hope is to be able to bring him back to Canada.”