Monday, June 7, 2010

The insurance battle

The week before treatment number seven, I was feeling well enough for my parents to go away for a week. My parents usually went away quite often, but they hadn't gone anywhere for the past six months. I enjoy my own company and I also missed being alone. It had been six months since I had more than a few hours to myself. Mum was reluctant to leave me, but I think it is important for them to have time to themselves also. I had to ensure mum that I had enough support on notice if anything went pear shaped. They did pack up and go, but mum called about four times a day to check up to make sure I hadn't disintergrated without constant supervision. It was a tiring week, but I enjoyed the time to myself.

It was also during this week that my four month long fight with the insurance division of a large bank came to a head. I had income and loan protection insurance with this particular bank. However, according to their policy breast cancer isn't covered under sickness, it is covered under trauma. Whilst I will attest that having breast cancer is traumatic, I can't see how it is not an illness. Conveniently for them, I didn't fit into the trauma category either. My last option was to apply under disability. After filling out countless forms, sending in letters and personal details about my finances and medical condition, I was declined under disability. It turns out that working a maximum of 20 hours every three weeks doesn't make me disabled enough. I felt like I was being punished for trying to keep my life together and keep my job. This was also the line that I was given by Centrelink. I had applied for a sickness allowence, but was declined as I earn $8 too much a fortnight. I was advised this after spending about 4 hours filling out forms, so you can imagine I was super happy to hear that news. I was also advised that if I drop my salary by $123 per fortnight, I would be eligible for a payment of $6 a fortnight from K-Rudd. I know I am not thinking very clearly at the moment, but this didn't seem like a good deal. K-Rudd can keep his $6 a fortnight! I can't even believe that $6 a fortnight is a payment category.

Not being a person who takes no for an answer easily, I dug my heels in with the bank. I thought the purpose of paying for insurance was so that you can claim when you are in need. After speaking to many people who were not very helpful, I was given the direct number for a supervisor who was supposed to help me sort my issue out. As it turned out she was initially helpful and my payment was approved. However, the payment was paid into my loan account, which I was unable to access, so I basically had been fighting with them in order to pay themselves back. As I hadn't missed a payment and was not in arrears, I was not happy with this situation at all. I rang the helpful lady back, but she had turned into a condescending, toxic and unhelpful person. I asked if the payment could be paid into my account that I had been paying my loan out of, since I hadn't missed a payment. She kept parroting to me that that was not the policy. I asked her if I could discuss that policy with someone and she just kept saying that was not the policy. This was on a Friday afternoon and I had chemo again on Monday. I told her that I had to pay $400 for chemo on Monday and how was I going to do that with $38 in the bank. This was not exactly true, but was good for dramatic effect. She spat out the following reply - 'We are not here to pay your chemo bill Karen'. It was at this point that I took a deep breath, counted to ten and said 'I am not asking you to pay for my chemo. Thank-you very much for your time, but I will not be needing to speak with you again' and hung up the phone before I let a barrage of swear words escape my mouth. I rang back a few minutes later and asked to speak with her direct supervisor. I am not usually one to complain about poor customer service, but I felt that this particular toxic woman deserved to be reprimanded. I am not a particularly sensitive person, but I found her comment was insensitive, abhorrent and just plain rude. I was advised to go to a branch and see if they could sort out my issue that day. I went to my local branch and spoke with a young girl who gave me the best customer service I have ever received. She was sensitive, informative and came to me with solutions to my issue. Basically, she was the antithesis of the toxic person I had dealt with earlier that day. It took an hour and a half, but this lovely young lady sorted out my issue. She had the misfortune to speak with the toxic lady, who made her cry. She was also going to put in a formal complaint about the toxic woman as was the branch manager. I took in a bunch of flowers for the young girl, who was so helpful and when she saw me she started crying. I would advise anyone that has income or loan protection insurance to check the policy to see what is covered. A friend of mine was talking to her insurance broker about income protection insurance and was advised that not all types of breast cancer are covered. It's not like you have a choice of which one to get!

Monday came along and it was chemo day. I was feeling quite perky and upbeat, which was strange for a chemo day. However, I had solved my issue with the bank, I had secured Powderfinger tickets and I knew that the toxic woman was going to get in big trouble - so I had a few reasons to smile.

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