Calgary senior with terminal illness receives refund after calling out Manulife over denied claim

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**UPDATE: Manulife reached out to Global News on Thursday to advise “we are very sorry to hear of this situation. We strive to do everything within our power to serve our customers. We have investigated and are actively working to resolve this situation.”

A short time later, Bob Choquette also reached out to let us know that the situation had been resolved. Not only did Manulife refund his money, it also refunded the premium he paid for the insurance coverage he had originally bought.

Original story appears below.

A Calgary senior is calling out Canada’s largest insurer, Manulife, after his travel claim was denied due to a timeline issue.

Bob Choquette told Global News he was late in sending the necessary documentation that he had to cancel his flight to Air Miles and afterward Manulife, but he added it couldn’t be helped — he was in hospital, fighting for his life.

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“I think it’s pretty callous. I think businesses nowadays should show a little compassion,” he said.

Choquette’s problems started when he booked a trip to Winnipeg back at the start of January. He redeemed his Air Miles reward points, just paying for the flight’s taxes and fees. He also bought travel insurance — just in case. A few weeks later, after being rushed to the hospital, he was glad he did.

“I had a tumor that enveloped my bile ducts,” Choquette said he was told by doctors.

That tumor turned out to be inoperable liver cancer and subsequent infections and ongoing chemo treatments grounded him. But despite having a doctor’s letter, Manulife rejected his claim.

In a letter it cited policy rules which state; “If you cancel your trip before your departure date, you must advise air miles within 72 hours of the cause of cancellation.”

“I was in no shape. I was wacked out on morphine,” Choquette pointed out. “If someone is one death’s doorstep, who’s going to contact them after three days.”

Bob Choquette looks over correspondence from Manulife.

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Choquette said he contacted the insurer again, explaining his circumstances, but did not hear back. Global News also contacted Manulife Wednesday. The company told Global News it would now investigate the incident and issue a statement at a later time.

Air Miles did not get back to Global News’ request for comment. But Choquette said he was told it was now in Manulife’s hands.

Choquette said he is not asking for much. He just wants the money back he paid in taxes and fees along with his reward miles.

“I didn’t do anything wrong. I’m not trying to rip them off. I’m not trying to steal from them,” he said. “I took out that $200 policy for a reason.”

“It’s $277 and some change. And then 3600 airmiles. It’s nothing. So why tell me no?”

Goose Insurance co-founder Omar Kaywan said this kind of tight timeline is not the “norm” for most insurers. He said depending on the company, there will be some leeways.

“72 hours in this particular situation seems very shortsighted,” he pointed out.

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Kaywan said insurers do expect claims to be filed as soon as possible, but it is understood there are exceptions.

“In some instances that cannot be met. If there’s a severe situation, if there’s a death involved. There’s definitely room for compassion in any business.”

Kaywan said it is important for consumers to research insurers before buying policies, question every policy and shop around for the right one.

Choquette said at this point it’s not about the money, it’s about doing what’s right. Not only for him but for others in similar situations.

“So here I am — just trying to fight for what’s mine. It’s just the principle of the thing. They shouldn’t allow this at all I don’t think.”

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