Man fights insurance company for trip injuries

May 10, 2012 8:06:28 PM PDT
A former Bay Area man went to Costa Rica on a humanitarian mission, but returned with head and leg injuries. And 19 months later he remains in a fight with the travel insurance company that he says left him stranded in a foreign country.

Clint Bowen says he went through quite an ordeal. Severely beaten and left without identification, he turned to his travel insurance company for help. What happened next is the focus of a lawsuit against the company Access America -- now known as Allianz -- for breach of contract and fraud.

Bowen took pictures of children sadly referred to as "Costa Rica's throw away kids". They are children living on the street with nowhere to turn. The former Bay Area man flew to Costa Rica to volunteer in an orphanage and homeless shelter.

"It was really a sad sight to see these children, sleeping on the street with bugs crawling on them," said Bowen.

Bowen also found himself injured on a Costa Rican street. He points to the areas on his head where according to the lawsuit he was beaten with a metal pipe and then stripped of his identification and money.

"I was unable to breath. I could not see. I could not hear. I was completely disoriented because of the traumatic brain injury," said Bowen.

The lawsuit states that local doctors treated him at a private hospital in Costa Rica and recommended he return to the United States for surgery. He was discharged from the hospital and days later he says he was beaten and robbed a second time.

"I was kicked in the head repeatedly and thrown in a dumpster. I had three broken teeth, fractured ribs, plus the initial injuries from the first attack," said Bowen.

The same day of that attack, he received an email from his insurance company, Access America, now known as Allianz. It says, "The assistance department has reviewed your request for additional medical treatment and is unable to authorize additional care."

Documents outlining his policy and mentioned in the lawsuit show that before his trip he purchased $25,000 in coverage for emergency medical and dental care.

This bill he said he received from the hospital was $4,576.38. Travel attorney Al Anolik is providing assistance in Bowen's lawsuit against both Allianz and Access America for breach of contract and fraud.

"He thinks he has the insurance because he is going to Third World and he should take it. And then this is the way they treat you when they think they can get away with it and they got caught this time," said Anolik.

Allianz told us by phone, "We did assist him in accordance with his policy. We covered his hospital bill in the amount of $11,000." It declined to answer our follow up questions. But Bowen's troubles didn't end with the second attack. Days after that incident, he says two bandits attacked him again in a crime of opportunity.

"I was held for the better part of 30 hours against my will and I was continually assaulted," said Bowen.

An x-ray shows the injuries to his leg after he said escaped by jumping over a fence. The lawsuit states Access America again denied him additional coverage. And it also alleges the company declined to fly him back to the U.S. even though his policy provided $250,000 in emergency medical transportation, or evacuation coverage.

"When you by evacuation insurance and they ignore you, that's fraud," said Anolik.

Allianz issued this statement to us: "We are confident that we have made our best efforts to provide him with the travel assistance due him under his travel insurance policy."

Bowen was able to get home with the assistance of the U.S. Embassy and family members. When purchasing travel insurance, it's a good idea to compare policies. One site where you can compare policies is

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