Insurance firm urges Israel travelers seeking
coverage to lobby the State Department.
ROBERT A. SKLAR
Southfield life insurance compa-
ny that markets to the Detroit
Jewish community reports it
can't get coverage for people with sched-
uled plans to travel to Israel primarily
because the State Department has
declared Israel travel a high risk for U.S.
citizens. It urges travelers to push the
State Department to remove Israel from
its advisory list. The list includes the
entire Middle East as well as part of
Africa and South America.
The inclusion of Israel on this list
helps choke off the tourism industry,
both Jewish and non-Jewish, so vital to
the Israeli economy and does not reflect
the actual danger to Americans who are
not traveling to Gaza or the West Bank,
said Robert M. Heinrich, vice president
of the Schechter Financial Group.
He said Schechter is "distressed to
hear assertions that do not accurately
reflect reality or go further to assert that
the life insurance industry is anti-
Semitic." He said it has never had cover-
age denied by any major carrier on the
basis of past travel to Israel, including
coverage on former Israeli residents now
"The vast majority of coverage we
have written the past 12 months," he
said, "has been for people who have
been to Israel."
He said the industry includes many
Jewish executives.who support Israel, but
who evenhandedly apply rules against •
insuring people who travel to areas sin-
gled out by the. State Department.
"This failure of the State Department
to acknowledge the extraordinary meas-
ures taken by the Israelis to ensure the
safety of tourists, as the members of our
community who participated on
Federation's Michigan Miracle Mission 4
can attest, is an unnecessary burden on
Israel," Heinrich said.
Last week, the Jewish Telegraphic
Ag ency reported that Allstate reversed its
decision to deny life insurance to travel-
ers to Israel and Palestinian areas.
Allstate was one of several U.S. insur-
ance companies that denied insurance to
those who had traveled or planned on
traveling to Israel.
"Allstate is committed to protecting
customers who choose or need to travel
to Israel, the West Bank or Gaza for
work or to be with family," Casey Sylla,
Allstate's chairman and president, told
JTA. "Upon further review, we decided
the benefits to our customers outweigh
Allstate's move comes as political pres-
sure is building on the insurance indus-
try to halt the practice.
Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., lauded
the insurer's decision, but said other
companies' policies made it necessary to
pass legislation on the issue.
"Allstate's decision is a good first step,
but we need to make sure that all insur-
ance companies stop discriminating
based on either past or future travel,"
Emanuel told JTA.
A member of the House Financial
Services Committee that oversees insur-
ance practices, Emanuel drafted a bill
this spring to stop the Israel travel
restriction. Emanuel's bill remains before
the Financial Services and Energy and
Commerce committees during the con-
gressional summer recess. An aide said
the bill has won 22 co-sponsors so far.
Under the bill, insurance companies
would not be allowed to deny life insur-
ance or change the rates on existing poli-
cies to people who visited Israel. It does
not cover those planning to go because
that would be "too hard to legislate," the
aide said. L
• The quotes in "Alyn Honors
Tappers" (July 2, page 12) should
have been attributed to. Steven
Tapper's daughters, Julia and Shayna
■ The dates for Dora the Explorer
at Detroit's Fox Theatre were incor-
rect in the July issue of Platinum
((COut On The Town," page 7). The
correct dates are July 28-Aug. 1.
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