Sunday 18 February 2018

'It was like holding the body to ransom' - Insurance company gave husband six hours to pay to bring wife's body home from Greek holiday island

Greek island of Mykonos (Photo: Google Maps)
Greek island of Mykonos (Photo: Google Maps)
Amy Mulvaney

Amy Mulvaney

An Irish husband was forced to pay €6000 to have his deceased wife's remains brought home after the insurance company removed coverage due to her weight.

Paula Healy was celebrating her 50th birthday and 30th wedding anniversary with her husband on the Greek island of Mykonos when she died unexpectedly on June 6.

Her brother Tony Nation told PJ Coogan on Cork’s 96fm Opinion Line that everything was “hunky dory” with Ms Healy’s travel insurance until they received a phone call while her remains were being flown from Athens to Heathrow airport.

“Everything was going well until we got a call on Monday at half five to say your sister is on the way from Athens, but we’re not going to release the body until you give us €6000,”  Mr Nation said of a phone call the family received from the insurance company.

The family had thought Ms Healy was covered, but the small print said otherwise.

The autopsy that was carried out in Athens stated that Ms Healy’s death was inconclusive, but mentions that she was overweight.

Obesity, high blood pressure and a heart murmur, which Mr Nation says was due to the “change of life”, are listed on Ms Healy’s death certificate.

Ms Healy didn’t declare her weight, heart murmur or high blood pressure on her health insurance form as, according to her husband, the conditions weren’t questioned on the online insurance form she filled out.

Mr Nation said that Ms Healy has been struggling with weight all her life and had passed fit on a medical examination a few weeks ago.

However, because the insurance form wasn’t filled out correctly, the company said that Ms Healy wasn’t covered.

They gave the family until midnight on Monday to pay €6000 to get her home.

“It was like holding the body hostage, to ransom,” Mr Nation told 96fm.

He said that the family has close ties with a funeral home in Cork and would have organised the body to be brought home themselves if they had known the complications, but the insurance company said they would cover it before the cost was mentioned.

“I don’t know many people today who would have €,6000 ready to go on their credit card,” he said.

However, Ms Healy’s family managed to gather the money together and the body was brought home.

“We would have moved heaven and earth to get her back,” he said.

Ms Healy’s remains travelled from Mykonos to another Greek island, then from Athens to Heathrow and Heathrow to Cork. Because of this, they must now have a closed coffin.

“Read the terms and conditions if you go on holidays,” Mr Nation advised listeners.

“It’s frightening what you’re not covered for.”

Colin Bell of the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust confirmed on air with PJ this morning that the trust, which aids families whose loved ones have died abroad, will reimburse the family.

Ms Healy’s funeral will take place on Friday.

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