August 14 2007 by Ellen Roseman
You’ve been in a car accident. You’re injured and unable to work, so you apply for accident benefits from your insurance company under Ontario’s no-fault system.
This should be a fairly simple process, one that doesn’t require your hiring a lawyer and going to court. But it can turn out that way if your insurer says you need to go for a second opinion.
The doctors providing second opinions are often in the employ of the insurance companies and write reports that say you don’t need the treatment your own doctor recommended. They may also say you’re ready to return to work. In other words, their reports can help cut costs for the benefit of the insurance company and other policyholders.
If you’ve seen Sicko, the Michael Moore documentary about U.S. health care, you’ll know what can happen when insurance companies rule the roost. They often deny claims based on medical evidence from doctors who are far from impartial. One of these doctors, shown in the film, repents for her misdeeds and talks about being viewed as a profit centre for the insurer.
All this makes it harder for people to get the coverage they thought they were entitled to. They trusted their insurance company to be in their camp — on their side, so to speak — and they feel betrayed when they find out it’s not the case.
I wrote a column about this last Sunday and got amazing feedback from readers. Many now see insurance through different eyes.