7 Nov 2012

Dying woman gives up fight with insurance company

9:48 pm on 7 November 2012

A Southland woman with terminal cancer says she has given up a fight with her insurance company to get full life cover because she does not want her husband to be in debt once she dies.

BNZ Life has refused to pay out fully because it says she did not disclose a mental health issue on her application form.

Meg Bourke says she was sexually abused at the age of 10 and was prescribed anti-depressants by a doctor at 14. She says she had no idea that the matter had been included in her medical notes 46 years ago.

Mrs Bourke believed the information about being given anti-depressants was irrelevant to her application, but BNZ Life disagreed.

The insurer says that not disclosing this information when she took out the policy affected her claim.

It did eventually pay out part of the claim based on the new disclosure, but this is less than half of what Mrs Bourke intially expected.

BNZ Life says it did not make its decision based on the medical notes obtained from the doctor but it can't share specific details about the claim due client confidentiality.

The company says it worked hard to pay Mrs Bourke the maximum amnount possible once it had all the information.

The Insurance Ombudsman says an insurance company is entitled to pay out nothing if a client has not disclosed all information requested on a policy application.

Karen Stevens says without full disclosure, an insurance company can treat a policy as if it never existed and it does not matter if the conditon being claimed for has nothing to do with the information that was not disclosed.