26 Mar 2020

Grey Power welcomes decision to pull funeral cover ads during shutdown

5:07 pm on 26 March 2020

The president of Grey Power has welcomed the announcement that the insurance company, Cigna, is to pull its funeral cover advertising for the duration of Covid-19 lockdown.

Wellington cemetery

Photo: RNZ / Harry Lock

Mac Welch said the organisation has fielded dozens of complaints about the ads which featured former sports broadcaster Keith Quinn.

"I think it is in really bad taste for these leeches to be putting that stuff on TV particularly at a time like this when people are being told to stay home and watch television"

Welch said it was high time the ads were pulled and he was grateful for the company's decision.

"In our age group we are already diving around corners because of this Covid-19. We've all been told, that you know, the chances of booking yourself a place in a wooden overcoat are fairly good if you get a good dose of this thing and you're getting that (funeral insurance ads) rammed down your throat every time you switch the television on."

  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP - don't show up at a medical centre

Bruce, an 84-year-old New Plymouth man who did not want to give his surname, said he thought the ads had increased in frequency.

He said they brought him down.

"You know at this time everybody's trying to look after themselves and keep out of harms way and they keep on bringing these funeral ads up which does not help you really. It's a morbid thing. I sit down for breakfast, for lunch, tea. They always come on."

Bruce said television was one of the few things the elderly had while stuck at home.

"The point is we are in isolation now we're supposed to be looking after ourselves and not mixing with other people and that and you think oh well I'll watch TV for a while and you get that thrown at you during these times. It's bad."

  • https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/covid-19 See all RNZ coverage of Covid-19]

Cigna responds

Cigna New Zealand chief executive, Gail Costa, said the company began taking steps to pause its funeral insurance advertising when the government made the announcement the country was moving to a level 4 shutdown.

Costa said the advertising halt would come into effect from today.

"In reflecting upon what is an extraordinary situation, we're conscious that people have a lot on their minds. During the next four weeks of lockdown, you'll see no funeral insurance advertising from Cigna."

Costa said at a time when people were looking out for each other and their loved ones more than ever, Cigna had experienced an increased in people wanting to reassess their insurance needs.

"This interest has been across a wide range of Cigna's insurance products, including funeral cover plans."

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