Sunday 26 March 2017

Insurer must pay €100,000 after suicide claim rejected

Tim Healy

AN insurance company will have to pay out on a €100,000 policy after it failed to prove that a businessman had committed suicide, the High Court ruled yesterday.

Company director David Cleary died from the injuries he sustained after he fell down cliffs at Howth Head, near the Baily Lighthouse, on April 24, 2004. He had been the holder of a €100,000 individual accident and illness policy with Lloyds Ireland Representative Ltd.

Yesterday, High Court president Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns upheld the Financial Services Ombudsman's finding that Lloyds failed to prove suicide on the balance of probabilities.

The judge said he could not find anything that merited interfering with the Ombudsman's decision.

Lloyds had asked the court to set aside the Ombudsman's finding on a complaint made by Mr Cleary's widow Bernadine Cleary, Sandymount Row, Dublin, against the insurance company's refusal to pay out on the policy, which did not cover suicide.

The Ombudsman had claimed he was entitled to reach the verdict he had.

Martin Hayden, legal representative for Lloyds, said Mr Cleary's policy contained a clause stating it did not cover death caused by the holder's suicide. The coroner at Mr Cleary's inquest returned an open verdict.

In 2005, Lloyds informed Mrs Cleary that they were not prepared to accept the claim and would have to investigate it further. In September 2008 Mrs Cleary made a complaint to the Ombudsman over the decision.

In their appeal, Lloyds claimed the Ombudsman failed to take into account the garda log of a call made by Mrs Cleary on the evening of her husband's death. There was an entry in the log stating Mrs Cleary "got a call from her husband which suggested he was going to harm himself". Mrs Cleary denied stating that her husband sent a text suggesting he was going to harm himself.

Irish Independent

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