“I thought they’d have some compassion.”
Those are words from a Christchurch couple who fear they will soon lose their house after the man’s insurance company declined his terminal illness claim because he may live longer than 12 months.
For the last 22 years, Ross and Sharon Cooksley both have had life and terminal illness insurance with Resolution Life, formerly AMP Life, which they assumed would cover them if they were diagnosed with a deadly illness.
This proved true five years ago when Sharon was diagnosed with bone cancer, and given less than 12 months to live.
Her terminal illness cover was paid out then, and while she has surpassed the 12 months expectancy, she’s still in a lot of pain, is unable to work, and continually tired.
When Ross became sick, and was formally diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers last month, the couple assumed they would be able to make a similar claim.
However, soon after making contact with the insurance company they were informed the terminal illness claim wouldn’t be approved because he could live longer than 12 months.
Life expectancy for Alzheimers varies considerably but the average life expectancy after diagnosis is eight to 10 years.
Sharon said: “They’ve basically said that on our policy we’d ticked the life cover and the terminal illness cover and because we haven’t ticked the critical illness box and Ross is deemed to survive the 12 month terminal illness period, we’re not covered.”
When they found out they wouldn’t be covered Sharon said they cried. Ross told the Herald the situation had become an “absolute nightmare”.
“You’re trying to do you’re best, and you have no money coming in.
“We’re going to lose our house,” he said as tears rolled down his cheeks.
The weight of stress, on top of each of their terminal illnesses, was making Ross’ symptoms worse, Sharon believed.
“It just makes day to day so difficult, just self-preservation is difficult. And I worry about Ross and where his journey is going to take him. And I see changes, even just over the last wee while with the stress that he has had, that he hasn’t coped very well with it.”
Prior to getting sick, Ross said they had never experienced stress like this, even when Sharon was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
“What the hell are we going to do, trying to keep the family unit going, the other side of it is money goes out really fast when these things happen. That’s the scary part for me you can’t keep up with what’s going to happen. So, we’re in a sh*t situation basically.
“We’re on a benefit but that’s not enough to pay our [mortgage]”
Right now Ross said he’s living with a fog over him, he tries to push on, but he loses his way when he talks. Ross “just goes blank”.
The couple have filed a complaint with the Ombudsman to try come to a resolution.
For Sharon, his diagnosis is scary because they don’t know how he’ll be affected or just how quickly it will progress.
At one point she even asked if they could receive 80 per cent of the compensation, which also was not accepted.
A spokesperson from Resolution Life said they were sympathetic to the difficult situation that Ross Cooksley was experiencing, but terminal illness cover under his policy was only claimable if they had a life expectancy of less than 12 months.
“This is in line with the policy T&C’s and applicable generally under these types of life insurance products.
“In order to support a claim, and in line with the policy terms, medical evidence is required to confirm that the person insured is expected to live for no more than twelve months.Thus far Mr Cooksley has not been able to provide this medical evidence.”
In response, Sharon said the company didn’t understand the meaning of compassion and if they were sympathetic, they would act responsibly and in a caring way.
Their daughter, Sophie, said the thing that has helped them the most in the last few days has been the response they’ve gotten from the Givealittle page she set up for them.
“The fact that they haven’t had any help from any of the professionals, but in the last few days they’ve just had, from complete strangers, an outpouring of love and support.”
You can visit their Givealittle page here.
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