A customer in his late 70s revealed that his bank denied him of travel insurance due to his advanced age.
Robin Farquhar, 78, is a long-time Bank of Nova Scotia customer who possesses a ScotiaGold Passport Visa; a credit card that entitles holders to six types of insurance coverage, from burglary to lost luggage to cancelled flights.
In February 2016, Farquhar and his brother had just completed their vacation trip in Antarctica and were about to board a flight from King George Island to Punta Arenas, Chile when a storm set in. The weather event left them stuck on the island for two to three days. Due to the inclement weather, all of Farquhar’s booked flights – from Punta Arenas to Santiago, then to Buenos Aires, finally to Montreal – had to be rescheduled. With the cost of hotels and meals added, the entire ordeal cost him between $2,000 and $2,400.
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When Farquhar finally returned home, he wanted to make a claim under his Passport Visa. He only noticed then that the bank’s medical, trip cancellation and interruption insurance were only available to those under 65 years of age.
Farquhar understands why men of his age would be denied medical insurance, but argued that trip cancellation coverage is another matter altogether.
“If you’ve got a plane that breaks down or a storm that blows up, that’s got nothing to do with age,” he told Canoe.
After approaching the bank for an explanation and feeling dissatisfied with the president’s answer, Farquhar submitted an application for relief under the Ontario Human Rights Code; it was no longer about the money.
“The bank’s lawyer sent a letter saying it’s not a lot of money and we’ll give you $2,400, on condition that I drop the complaint,” he said.
“That’s not my concern,” Farquhar stressed, adding that he now has his own legal counsel. “It’s costing me money to do this. But, it’s just not right.”
The bank has admitted to an “age distinction” for its Passport card, but argued that all types of insurance coverage discriminate on the basis of risk factors. The bank also said that it had informed Farquhar of the 65 rule 12 years earlier.
Bank of Nova Scotia pointed out that customers over 65 years of age are prone to use cancellation or interruption insurance more than other age groups.
“As the bank understands it, there is valid actuarial data which suggests that claims for [cancellation/interruption] coverage increase after an individual reaches age 65. Cardholders who are retired are much more likely to travel; accordingly, the claims experience associated with retired cardholders is much higher,” the bank said in a statement.
A hearing on the issue is anticipated to be held this autumn.
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