On May 6th, 2021, the Washington State Office of the Attorney General announced a lawsuit against Allianz, a travel insurance provider. State regulators allege that the policies offered by Allianz included an undisclosed exclusion of coverage for “mental or nervous health disorders” that improperly discriminated against customers. Washington State alleges that at least 485 claims were unfairly denied. In this blog post, our Spokane insurance denial attorneys highlight the key things to know about the lawsuit.
Allegations: Travel Insurance Policy Contained Discriminatory Exclusion
Travel insurance is a type of optional coverage that provides financial protection against certain unforeseen losses that may be incurred during travel. One of the primary risks that travel coverage insures against is trip cancellation. Between 2014 and 2021, Allianz sold more than 2.2 million travel insurance policies to consumers in Washington State. The policies provide coverage for a wide range of potential losses, including trip cancellation. However, tucked deep in the detail of the policy was an undisclosed exclusion:
- No travel insurance coverage for losses related to “mental or nervous health disorders.”
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson alleges that Allianz failed to properly disclose this policy exclusion to consumers. Additionally, Attorney General Ferguson also contends that the travel insurance policy exclusion is a form of disability discrimination that is strictly barred by Washington State law. Specifically, regulators argue that the Allianz policies violated the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD).
Nearly 500 Insurance Claims are Directly Covered by the Lawsuit
The Washington State Office of the Attorney General states that at least 485 travel insurance claims were improperly denied by Allianz on the grounds of its “mental or nervous health disorders” policy exclusion since the company started offering this type of coverage in the state in 2014. Notably, the Attorney General alleges that the insurance company improperly denied claims even when policyholders produced comprehensive medical documentation. Some examples of reimbursement for travel cancellation that were denied include:
- A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease;
- Hospitalization for severe depression;
- An attempted suicide by a close family member; and
- Other claims supported by letters from doctors and hospital records.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed the lawsuit against Allianz Travel Insurance in a King County court. In the claim, state regulators are seeking full and fair financial restitution for all affected policyholders, the imposition of civil financial penalties against the insurance company, and injunctive relief barring Allianz from continuing to use the mental health policy exclusion in the future.
We Wrote the Book on Insurance Law in Washington State
At Albrecht Law PLLC, our Spokane insurance lawyers know how to hold the big companies accountable. If you believe that your insurance claim was wrongfully denied or underpaid, we are ready to help. Call us now or send us a message to request your no cost, no obligation initial consultation. We are proud to represent policyholders and policy beneficiaries throughout Eastern Washington, including in Spokane County, Ferry County, Stevens County, and Pend Oreille County.