Ill husband’s €1m insurance policy wrongly cancelled by Zurich Life, court told

The €4,868 monthly premium was missed because of a temporary insufficiency of funds in the couple’s bank account

A businesswoman claims Zurich Life wrongly cancelled her gravely ill husband’s €1 million life insurance policy on which she has paid more than half a million euro in premia for the last 32 years.

Carmel Ryan, of Oaklee, Model Farm Road, Cork, says she was never contacted by Zurich Life Assurance plc before it cancelled the policy a month-and-a-half after the €4,868 monthly premium was missed because of a temporary insufficiency of funds in the couple’s bank account.

Zurich now says it will only reinstate the policy if her husband Sean Ryan takes out a new policy. Ms Ryan says her husband is gravely ill and would not meet the underwriting criteria for such a reinstatement.

She has sued Zurich, of Frascati Road, Blackrock, Dublin, and her brokers SYS Mortgages DAC, Quintins Way, Pearse Street, Nenagh, Co Tipperary.

The case was admitted to the fast track Commercial Court on Monday by Mr Justice Denis McDonald on consent between the parties.

In her action, Ms Ryan says monthly direct debit payments to Zurich have been made since May 1990 from an account which is used for very limited purposes, including the payment of premia.

The monthly premium due on September 1, 2021, was not collected because, due to administrative oversight and inadvertence, there was “a temporary insufficiency of funds in the account”, she says in an affidavit.

Payment

The policy provides for a 30-day grace period in the event of a missed payment. Ms Ryan says Zurich maintains it wrote twice to her about the missed payments in September 2021, and again on the following October 18 cancelling the policy. She says she never received these letters.

Zurich, she says, also claims it attempted to contact her broker but due to “system or administrative error” on the part of one or both defendants, the information was not communicated to SYS Mortgages.

Zurich refused to reinstate the policy, refuted liability in correspondence with her solicitor and she then brought proceedings.

She says she has paid Zurich €568,643 in premia over the last 32 years and she anticipates it will be worth €1,064,798 on the death of her husband.

She is seeking declarations and orders, including that the termination of the policy was in breach of contract and that the policy is valid and subsisting, as well as damages.

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