Lai See

Couple's medical plan turns out to be sham

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 December, 2013, 3:03am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 December, 2013, 3:24am

A cautionary tale relating to medical coverage has come to our attention. In December 2011, Matthew Deayton received an e-mail from Rbi Premium offering "complete 'peace of mind' solutions for individuals or families who are looking to protect themselves against unexpected circumstances that often happen in life".

It went on to say: "Medical emergencies and travel mishaps do happen, so should anything like that happen to you, the Rbi Premium membership provides the highest level of care for you and your family." After further enquiries and discussions with Lisa Kolman of Rbi Premium's agent BKK Partners, and Rbi Premium's Rory Blair, Deayton paid a year's premium of about US$2,500 for his wife and two daughters, which they were led to believe would give them coverage up to a total of US$500,000.

However, the promise of "complete peace of mind" turned out to be complete nonsense, as the Deayton's discovered when Matthew's wife Gail badly slashed her wrist on a ceiling fan while putting some items into a high cupboard. She was rushed to the Adventist Hospital and immediately underwent a 3½ hour operation to repair six severed tendons in her wrist.

She spent a day and a night in hospital, resulting in bills of HK$127,000 which were paid by Matthew Deayton.

However, when the Deaytons sought to reclaim this from Rbi, it triggered a barrage of detailed questions about how the accident occurred. It was suggested at one point that their medical cover under the scheme was not applicable in cases of negligence.

In a number of e-mails over several months Rbi's Kenneth Hunt said the underwriters were "considering an offer", although despite repeated requests, he failed to give details.

Eventually the Deayton's tired of this, and Rbi was sent a letter from their lawyers demanding payment. This prompted a more detailed letter from Hunt, in which he pointed out that the scheme was an offshore trust not a traditional international medical-insurance scheme, and that it was "at our sole discretion as to whether or not to pay any benefit to any Rbi Premium member".

This was a rather different message from the peace of mind initially promised. Hunt went on to say that the trust would not pay out for "expenses arising from any incident involving the avoidable and unnecessary exposure to bodily injury - unless sustained while in the act of saving the life of another person".

In another extraordinary passage, Hunt discusses the accident, observing that Gail Deayton should have been aware of the proximity of the ceiling fan to the cupboard.

He concludes that "Gail avoidably and unnecessarily exposed herself to the risk of bodily injury, which is evident by the occurrence of the accident and consequential injury sustained as a result." He says that Rbi is therefore refusing to pay for the treatment and ends saying: "The need for personal safety should never be taken for granted or overlooked, and the Rbi Program cannot be held to account for avoidable and unnecessary lapses."

When approached by Lai See to explain why Rbi declined to pay, Hunt said it would reply in due course via its lawyers. Several months have passed and we have heard nothing. The Deayton's are no longer pursuing their effort for payment, since it was becoming more expensive than it was worth. But they are keen to warn others about Rbi Premium's business practices.


Is tapering a plus for property?

We were interested to see the swift positive response by retail estate agent CBRE to the US Federal Reserve's announcement that it will start to "taper" early next year. This, it said, was likely to have "positive implications for the Asian real estate market" largely as a result of reducing uncertainty.

One place it may not be so positive is Hong Kong, which since tapering started has seen property values double. Although Hong Kong mortgage rates are unlikely to change much over the next year, the relative attraction of Hong Kong property versus other assets is likely to wane, putting pressure on values.


Season's greetings

That's it from Lai See for this year. Thanks for your tips, comments and support. Merry Christmas and all the best for 2014.


Have you got any stories that Lai See should know about? E-mail them to