For Kate*, losing her husband Brendan* after 50 happy years together was incredibly difficult.
It all happened so quickly there was very little time to get their financial affairs in order and say goodbye. Within a month of Brendan’s pancreatic cancer diagnosis, he entered hospital and never came back out.
Kate was left with an administrative nightmare, having to arrange the funeral, close bank and superannuation accounts, and inform service providers; all while grieving and comforting her family. Kate knew Brendan had a life insurance policy but she was reluctant to contact his insurer ClearView, fearing another stressful conversation and more confusion.
She had already been denied access to critical funds from the couple’s joint bank account, due to an administrative glitch, and another payment was held up due to the company losing Kate’s original paperwork. At the end of her tether, she finally called ClearView and was pleasantly surprised.
“Nothing about Brendan’s death and the aftermath was easy except dealing with ClearView,” Kate says.
“From the very first call, ClearView were absolutely fantastic. The paperwork I had to complete was easy and straightforward, and very quickly the money was in my account. They were brilliant and thank goodness too because after all I had been through, I just couldn’t have handled another problem.”
“Everything I had read in the paper about insurance companies shirking their responsibilities was simply not true in my experience.”
As a retiree, Kate relied on the money she received from Brendan’s life insurance, until other money was released. Without ClearView’s speedy payment and excellent customer service, she would have been completely stuck.
“Life insurance has made an enormous difference to me, just as Brendan intended it to. Right to the very end he was lucid and never lost his cognitive abilities,” Kate says.
“As he was dying, he felt relieved that we had life insurance. One of the last things he said to me was, at least you’ve got that money until the other stuff is sorted. It provided him with enormous peace of mind at the end, as well as all the years before.”
Peer pressure led to invaluable life insurance
A lot has been written about the negative impacts of peer pressure but for Brendan and Kate, their decision to take out life insurance in 1985 was positively influenced by what their friends were doing.
At the time, the young couple had just bought a home and was planning to start a family.
Many of their friends and colleagues were in the same position and some had taken out life insurance. It became the topic of conversation at BBQs and family gatherings.
It got Brendan and Kate thinking that if something unexpectedly happened to the other, they wanted to ensure their spouse, and any future children, would be taken care of. They wasted no time booking an appointment to see an insurance broker who lived in their neighbourhood.
“We wanted to make sure that if one of us suddenly passed away, there’d be enough to pay off the house and support the other person. We originally did it for each other because we had been married for eight years before we had children and then after our children were born, it became even more important.”
Brendan and Kate originally took out life insurance policies through NRMA Insurance Group, which rebranded to Insurance Australia Group (IAG) in 2002. The year after, MBF acquired IAG’s life insurance book and financial planning arm, ClearView.
“From the very first call, ClearView was absolutely fantastic. The paperwork I had to complete was easy and straightforward, and very quickly the money was in my account. They were brilliant.”
In 2008, BUPA acquired MBF and subsequently sold MBF’s life insurance, superannuation and financial advice arm to a business, which later became ClearView. Through all the changes, Brendan and Kate continued paying their premiums, right up to retirement, even when their children moved out of the family home to start their own families.
Then in 2021, the couple seriously considered whether it was worthwhile keeping their cover.
“As we got older our premiums started to increase quite a bit so last year we made a decision to keep our cover in place for one final year,” Kate recalls.
It was a fateful decision.
Within a year, Brendan was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He passed away two weeks before their life insurance was set to expire.
“Brendan was a wonderful man and a great husband, father and grandfather. We were together for 50 years and we were very happy,” Kate says.
“He was always thinking of me, which is why we originally took out life insurance.”
In focus: Pancreatic cancer
Pancreatic cancer is the eighth most common cancer in Australia in both men and women. In 2021, more than 4,200 people were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
It may commonly be diagnosed by blood tests and an ultrasound to see if a tumour is present, as well as other imaging tests such as CT scans and MRIs to determine the stage of the cancer.
Most pancreatic cancer sufferers are over 60, and often have diabetes. Other risk factors include smoking, a family history of pancreatic, colon or ovarian cancer, or previous history of pancreatitis.
*Not their real name.