Uncertainty... Something that Nobody can Predict or Guarantee

Spring 2010 CSANews Issue 74  |  Posted date : May 27, 2010.Back to list

I hate uncertainty!

I am not sure where they even came up with such a dumb word, yet it is everywhere. In the insurance business, it is a time bomb waiting to explode. Take a really simple insurance application, for instance; only three or four simple questions, your credit card number, and you normally would assume that you are covered. Did you really think that it would be this easy?

Well, it actually is this easy unless you have a claim. Then it can become very difficult. Now, all of a sudden, you and your doctors have pages and pages of information to provide to your insurance company. We have spoken of this before and it is called "claims underwriting." If you have not read your insurance policy and understood every word, you will probably be caught in the small-print spider web. The job of the claims adjuster has been subtly changed from payment of your claim, to one of trying to prevent the payment of your claim. A Medipac application has lots and lots of questions and you must read them carefully and answer them truthfully. If you do, the word "uncertainty" is almost totally erased. I would be very cautious of a short application with very few questions.

We should perhaps start looking at things even earlier than filling in an application. Did your insurance company give you a policy to read? I don't mean a list of the highlights of the policy – those are meant to "sell you." I mean the entire policy, which contains many reasons you may not want to buy it at all. This is very simple – don't even bother to start an application until you have read and understood the policy. If there is no policy, throw the application out. Then you will have no uncertainty about what the policy says and no uncertainty about what you are really buying.

When completing any application, some of the questions may be complicated. This is uncertainty! And it can affect your coverage. What is an ejection fraction, anyway? I was dizzy, is that really a TIA? Is my doctor telling me everything about my symptoms? What are these drugs I am taking actually for? There is only one way to be sure and that is to talk to your doctor if you do not totally understand a question. He or she can answer it for you and eliminate any uncertainty.

As you know, Medipac uses nurses and doctors on our emergency medical lines. If you buy another plan, will the phone be answered by a competent person who can really assist you? Do they even have doctors and nurses to help you? They may "farm it out" somewhere and this is a very complicated uncertainty. If you are thinking of buying another plan, see if they have given you the emergency medical number in advance. Is it different than the claims number? Several years ago, I was interviewing what I thought was a top-flight medical assistance company. There were about 50 people involved, but only one was a doctor. Most of their staff was clerical and they were very good at replacing your passport, sending your money to the closest American Express office and referring you to consulate offices. But if you have a medical emergency, you want medical people taking care of you, and fast. Medipac eliminates that uncertainty, too.

There are uncertainties that cannot be totally eliminated. What will happen to the Canadian dollar? Everyone thought that we had reached par with the U.S. dollar and then it collapsed by five cents in a day or two. Volatility is very high due to uncertainty in the world. With the new Obamacare, will hospitals be clogged with millions of people seeking "free" access? Will the U.S. health-care industry dramatically increase prices to us, to offset the losses incurred in working for the government? There are not enough doctors to go around and many are already leaving the profession due to their age. Access, I believe, will become a real issue similar to the access, or lack thereof, in Canada. One of my acquaintances has been waiting for a kidney transplant for more than a year and there is still no assigned time to perform it. You might think that it was because there was no kidney donor. Wrong! His sister has offered her kidney and she, too, has been waiting for that same year.

At a recent Travel Health Insurance Association (THIA) conference, I was speaking to a reinsurer of travel insurance. He said that last year was one of the worst on record and that they were taking substantial losses due to large claims over $500,000 and many, many over $200,000. This creates very difficult decisions when it comes to pricing for next year. There is a lot of uncertainty.

But that is what insurance is all about. Spread the risk as much as possible to eliminate the impact of uncertainty and surprise events. Medipac will do the best we can for you this year, as we have tried to do every year. I hope that you will choose Medipac as your insurance partner, and I would recommend that you take advantage of our Early Bird program which will erase another bit of that uncertainty we all hate so much.

Related links
Letter From the Editor, Issue 73 - Winter 2009
Medipac Travel Insurance