Wednesday, August 01, 2007

  • Wednesday, August 01, 2007
  • Elder of Ziyon
From the New York Post:
Life-insurance companies are systematically denying coverage to customers solely because they have visited Israel or plan to go in the future - outraging travelers who say Israel's historic sites are as safe as any American city, officials say.

The practice has become so widespread that nine states, including New York, have tried to stop it.

But insurance companies continue to block coverage, and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) introduced legislation last week prohibiting insurers from blocking coverage and requiring them to rely on accurate information.

"It is just unfair for people to be denied life insurance because they might travel to Israel," said Schumer.

Sarina Roffe, who works at ORT America, a Jewish organization, learned of her life-insurance company's policy the hard way, when the Brooklyn mother of three applied to expand her coverage.

Her carrier, John Hancock, refused - citing Roffe's 2002 travel to Israel.

"I was upset because I didn't feel that going to Israel represented risky behavior. To me it was just a business trip," Roffe said.

Rabbi Mitchell Hurvitz of Greenwich, Conn., had his request for coverage denied by insurance company AIG after he led a mission to Israel.

"I think it's a horrible practice," he said. "It totally misunderstands what it is to travel to the Holy Land, for a Jew or a Christian, or for that matter a Muslim."

AIG also denied a request by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) when she disclosed that she might visit Israel, prompting her to introduce a bill in the House.

An AIG spokesman said, "We don't comment on individual policyholder matters." There was no immediate response from John Hancock about the other complaint.

Insurance companies argue that Israel is included on the State Department's travel-warning list, alongside such war-torn hot spots as Iraq and Sudan.

The feds tell travelers to stay out of the West Bank and Gaza, but only to "be mindful" in Israel.

"Violent conflicts in another country are some of the factors that an insurer might consider," said Whit Cornman, spokesman for the American Council of Life Insurance.

Yet jetting to Israel might actually be safer than staying stateside.

"The most dangerous thing I do when I go to Israel is drive to JFK Airport," Kaplan said.

Israel's death rate is favorable to the U.S.: 573 per 100,000, compared to 817 in the U.S., based on the most recent year's data.

That last statistic shows that the insurance companies are not basing this decision on actuarial tables or cold facts.

So what could possibly be their motivation?

The State Department's travel warning to Israel mentions the possibility of suicide bomb attacks, mentioning, for example, that the latest suicide bomb in Jerusalem occurred in 2004. Yet for some reason, the United Kingdom is not on the "travel warning" list, nor is Turkey, nor Bangladesh, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, France, nor many other countries that have been the hosts of multiple terror attacks over the past few years.

So what could possibly be their motivation?

Notice also these paragraphs:
This Travel Warning is being issued to update information on the general security environment in Israel, Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip, and to reiterate threats to American citizens and U.S. interests in those locations.

Americans in Israel, Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are strongly encouraged to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv or the Consular Section of U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem through the State Department's travel registration website,

Current information on travel and security in Israel, Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank may be obtained from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 within the United States and Canada , or, from overseas, 1-202-501-4444.
According to the State Department, Jerusalem is apparently not a part of Israel.

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