Suzanne Hogarth was looking forward to going on a 35-day cruise.
“A family member and I decided to take a trip. It was to leave from Boston, go to Europe and return,” Hogarth said.
Unfortunately, weeks before the trip, her family member started to feel depressed.
“He felt anxious and paranoid. He fell into this depression where he was in a hole and couldn’t get out,” Hogarth said.
The doctor suggested medication and counseling, but it didn’t help.
“It was very apparent my family member was not going to be able to make the travel trip,” said Hogarth.
Hogarth was confident the travel insurance policy she purchased through Allianz would cover the more than $20,000 trip. She notified Allianz they would not be going on the cruise and sent a doctor’s note.
“I got a letter saying because of anxiety, depression and paranoia, they were going to disregard our claim because it was an exclusion under the insurance policy itself,” Hogarth said. “Any mental issue that is recognized by the American Psychiatric Association is an exclusion on the policy.”
“That’s a shame,” said Dorothy Mahlmann, a volunteer with the Dauphin County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “Mental illness should be treated just like any other disease. Mental illness strikes so many of us.”
That may be why many travel insurance policies do not cover mental illness. Covering common mental health issues would force premiums to go up.
“It’s all about money,” Mahlmann said.
Federal law requires health insurance companies to provide mental health coverage if they cover physical illnesses. Travel insurance isn’t included in those laws. While some may view it as discriminatory, insurance companies can make their own decisions.
“Travel insurance does not provide coverage for trip cancellations due to mental health issues, but our emergency medical coverage and emergency medical transportation benefits will provide coverage for our customers who may experience a mental health emergency while traveling,” said Daniel Durazo, the director of marketing and communications for USA Allianz Partners.
Durazo says Allianz customers can cancel a policy if it does not meet their needs.
“Travel insurance doesn’t cover every circumstance that may impact a trip. That’s why consumers have at least 15 days to review their travel insurance policy to make sure that it meets their needs. If during those 15 days they feel the policy isn’t what they’re looking for, they can cancel their policy and receive a full refund. We are sorry that the product that [Mrs. Hogarth] purchased did not meet their needs, but we wish them the best in their future travels,” Durazo said.
Hogarth has tried to appeal but keeps getting denied.
“I wanted to make sure people were aware of this. This is a much bigger issue than just one family member,” she said.