Saturday 24 February 2018

Dublin widower with young family faces losing home following six-year insurance fight

Ashling and Danny O' Connor in happier times. Ashling was 32 when she died.
Ashling and Danny O' Connor in happier times. Ashling was 32 when she died.
Danny with his three children Sophie (now 14), Scott(now 9) and Stacey (now 7).
Clare Cullen

Clare Cullen

Dublin Dad Danny O' Connor is facing losing the home his family have lived in for ten years following the loss of a six-year fight with the insurance company that held his wife's life assurance policy.

Ashling O'Connor died six years ago leaving behind her husband Danny and their three children - Sophie (8), Scott(3) and Stacey (1).

Danny has been fighting his wife's insurance company for almost six years with the help of the Ombudsman, but recently received the news that the State body can "no longer help" him.

Ashling went into hospital with "pains in her bones" and doctors thought she may have lupus, although she was never officially diagnosed with the disease. She was in St. James' Hospital  for a couple of weeks before contracting pneumonia and being moved to the ICU and placed on ventilator. Speaking to, Danny said that was the last time he "heard her talk...That's the last time I talked to her".

Ashling was transferred to Sweden for specialist treatment and remained in hospital for eight months before she died. Her official cause of death is thought to be an infection which spread to her lungs.

Danny is on a widower's pension and was receiving mortgage supplements from the council while his case was being investigated by the Ombudsman. He was paying 'interest-only' on his mortgage for this time while he fought for his wife's life insurance payout.

"The banks won't take any more money off me... they say it's too far gone. They say they need to repossess the house".

The insurance company claim that information was "not disclosed" when filling out the application for life assurance on the mortgage.

"I saw her fill out that she has been diagnosed with Raynard's disease - that does nothing, just makes your fingers go white. The  mortgage broker lost the first form and we had to do it all again. I was always unsure about that second form but the Ombudsman said they can't help me as that's a fraud claim."

"It asked did she get blood tests in the last five years before applying, which she did. I don't know if she put this down. She did all the forms."

These supplements have ended as the Ombudsman's investigation has concluded and Danny is not entitled to rent allowance as he owns the property. "I can't get rent allowance on my own property. They told me I'd have to get evicted and put on the Council list... and then I could get rent allowance."

"The houses around here are going for 1,400 a month and I would only be entitled to €900 rent allowance so I wouldn't be able to afford it."

"I was never entitled to legal aid. it cost me €850 to get a senior councilman to look at my case. The Ombudsman told me just before Christmas that they couldn't help me anymore. The deadline to bring it to court was February but it took so long that a solicitor wouldn't take me on."

"I feel robbed. We had a house for nine years up in Crumlin and we only moved because we were a bit nervous on the road with young children. We had a mortgage for nine years. If we hadn't moved, I wouldn't be in this position. We would have been covered - that's what kills me."

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