Does a Common Law Wife Benefit from a Funeral Policy Payout?

November 18, 2017

How does a common law wife funeral policy affect your funeral policy? The safest thing to do is to name a person as the beneficiary as the insurer won’t always act as you think they should.

In the case below, the insurance firm never took into account the terms it used in its policy.

The story Of the Common law Wife funeral policy –

Mr Y took out a policy with a scheme which gave added benefits in addition to the standard funeral cover. He insured himself, wife and other members of his family and paid every month. They soon parted and by the time the divorce was finalised she was ill with a terminal disease.

The ex-husband stayed and took care of her. This went on for a few years and thus she was his common law wife. When she died the insurance refused to pay out. They cited the divorce as the reason she was no longer insured at the time of her death.

Common law Wife funeral policy – How the Ombudsman ruled

Common law wife funeral policyThe Ombudsman requested a copy of the original policy. As stated when the claim was denied, the policy did not cover partners you have divorced.

There was, however, a provision made within the policy that covered a common law wife. The policy allowed for cover in the cases of a civil marriage, but also in the case of a common law marriage.

The insurer defined this “common law wife” as a person that they recognised as a partner after the two had been living together for a six month period. In the divorce clause, though, they stated that where the common law relationship has dissolved, there would be no cover.

Did Mr Y’s relationship with his wife fall under the definition of a common law one? That’s the critical question. The Ombudsman put forward the view that the common law relationship existed.  The proof being that the two had been living together since their divorce.

The insurer said that no such proof existed. They went on to say that the only proof furnished was an affidavit where he swore that the two of them never actually split up. The company requested a second affidavit.

This time Mr Y provided an affidavit from his priest that confirmed that they had still been living with each other. The company said that this was not proper proof of the living arrangements. The Ombudsman countered that the claims procedure it relied upon was not listed in terms of the original policy and therefore not considered binding.

Common law wife funeral policy – Conclusion

The insurer decided that it would conduct a forensic investigation of the home circumstances for Mr Y during that time. After which they came back later and paid the claim instead.

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All info was correct at time of publishing