Posted on Jun 04, 2013

The parents of 17-year-old Sondra Snider were overwhelmed with worry and grief after their daughter was involved in an injury accident on April 6th ,2013. Sondra crashed her car in Calhoun, Mo. after drinking and driving. She was taken to Research Medical Center where she was treated for a traumatic brain injury and a broken collarbone, among other injuries.  While extremely frightened and scared for their daughter’s health, Sondra’s parents also were overwhelmed with worry about if their insurance provider would cover the medical expenses. Sondra had a blood alcohol content of .064 which is the reason Humana, the Snider’s insurance provider, cited for denying the family’s claim.

The Sniders received a letter from Humana on April 9th which stated, ““Sondra had serum blood alcohol level of .064, which in the State of Missouri is considered over the legal limit. Therefore, the inpatient admission to Research Medical Center has been denied.”

Sondra is still unresponsive after coming out of a five week coma. According to Renee Snider, Sondra’s mother, Sondra will need the assistance of a rehabilitation center to, “learn to walk, talk, stand, just to stand. She can’t even stand.”

Renee admits that her daughter made a poor decision to drink and drive but believes that the car wreck was an accident. She says her and her husband have paid their insurance premiums a decade and believes that their daughter should be covered regardless of whether or not she was at-fault for the collision.

“You know that’s the reason we have insurance is because of accidents. Accidents happen, this was an accident,” Renee said in an interview. “I think every insurance company looks for a way to deny a claim, but I think this one is just outrageous.”

The BAC limit for teens in Missouri is 0.02. For adults, it is 0.08. Humana’s clause states that legally intoxicated drivers are responsible for their injuries. For the Sniders, that would mean thousands of dollars in medical costs.

The Snider’s attorney, Michael Edgett, sent a written response to Humana's claim that she was 'legally intoxicated,’ stating in part ,“Ms. Snider was not ‘intoxicated’ as that term is defined in Missouri or any other state of the Union.” Humana never cited Sondra’s age as reason for denying the claim.

Many area news outlets picked up the story and metro residents reached out to show support for the Snider family. A poll taken by Fox4 news in Kansas City found that 63% of people believed that insurance should cover a person’s claim even if they have alcohol in their system.  However, on May 24th, after the Snider’s suffered more than a month of financial worry, Humana reversed its decision and decided to offer coverage for Sondra.

It took not only the efforts of an attorney but public exposure through news coverage as well to get a health insurance company to reverse course on an improper denial of insurance coverage and pay a valid claim for the hospital bills of a young Kansas City teenager severely injured In a motor vehicle collision. This story really illustrates how far an insurance company will go in an effort to profit by minimizing and destroying valid insurance claims. It's the same old story. Deny, delay, defend.

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James Roswold
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James Roswold is a Kansas & Missouri personal injury, workers comp, and medical malpractice attorney.