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Insurer removes HIV/AIDS exclusion from emergency travel medical insurance policy

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November 6, 2015

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In May 2015, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) learned that a Canadian insurance company (RSA Canada) would not issue an emergency travel medical insurance policy to anyone who had ever been diagnosed with HIV or AIDS and obtained a copy of the exclusionary policy.

The OHRC wrote to RSA Canada to express concern that the HIV/AIDS exclusion might contravene Ontario’s Human Rights Code.

While exceptions in the Code allow insurers to make distinctions based on certain Code grounds (including disability), the distinctions must be reasonable and bona fide. The Supreme Court of Canada has established a test for determining whether a rule or restriction is bona fide.  

In October 2015, RSA Canada advised the OHRC that it had removed the HIV/AIDS exclusion from the emergency travel medical insurance policy, and that individuals with HIV/AIDS will now be treated in the same way as people with other pre-existing medical conditions.

The OHRC recommends that all organizations identify and remove barriers to human rights. We encourage all insurers to review their policies for similar eligibility exclusions, and to ensure equitable coverage for persons living with HIV and other disabilities.