A Canadian couple is facing the very real prospect of bankruptcy after an unfortunate set of circumstances has left them with a medical bill just shy of $1 million. Jennifer Huculak was six months pregnant when she was cleared by her doctor to take a one last vacation with her husband before the birth of their child. Jennifer purchased travel insurance from Blue Cross of Canada, and the couple went on their way; however, her water broke while in Hawaii, resulting in an extended hospital stay during which their baby was delivered prematurely. Blue Cross of Canada cited as a “pre-existing condition” a bladder infection that caused her to bleed slightly at the four month-mark of her pregnancy, and has refused to pay the couple’s hospital bills on that basis. Ms. Huculak’s physician wrote a letter to Blue Cross informing them that his patient was indeed stable when they departed for the trip, and that the bladder infection could not be the cause of the premature delivery, but Blue Cross has yet to budge.
At this point, not enough is known about this couple’s ordeal to determine if they made a genuine misstep somewhere along the way, or if the insurance company should rightfully wear the title of “ogre” in this case; the precise details and history regarding that which transpired will surely be played out in a courtroom somewhere in the future. Regardless, this event serves to remind us that purchasing travel insurance must be approached with a great deal of care - this is true of any type of coverage, but travel insurance is particularly famous (infamous?) for the numerous exclusions and limitations of liability that typically characterize it. If, after vetting a policy you’re considering, you still have concerns about its protections, then either go further in receiving clarification…in writing…from the insurance company, or hold off on taking the trip until such time that you can be certain you’re appropriately protected.
Robert G. Yetman, Jr.
Managing Editor, The James L. Paris Report