Cyprus Mail

Mourning parents in life insurance battle

By Bejay Browne

THE FAMILY of a young Paphos mother who died of cancer four years ago are still wrangling with her insurance company for pay-outs on two life insurance policies.

Thirty-five-year-old Alethea Ayres’ honest account on her personal blog and Facebook of her cancer as it spread from malignant melanoma to nine brain tumours and stomach cancer struck a chord among Paphos residents.

They joined forces to raise money to send her for what was hoped to be lifesaving treatment in Germany. But Alethea’s cancer had spread to her stomach and her health deteriorated rapidly. She was admitted to the Friend’s hospice Paphos where she later died.

The family have just marked her four year memorial but say Alpha Bank Insurance have still not paid out on two of Alethea’s policies.

Her mother, Hilda Georgiou, said that Alpha Bank/Alpha Insurance had all of the paperwork pertaining to her daughter’s death within two months of Alethea passing away.

She said she had turned to the media in desperation and told the Sunday Mail: “Alethea had two life insurance policies, one for her apartment and one for a small loan. Up until now these haven’t been paid out. I believe they were waiting for her will to be finalised. They were given her death certificate shortly after she passed away.”

Georgiou said that as her daughter died intestate – without making a will – the process was only finalised last August, three years after she died. Her husband and son are the beneficiaries.

The claims refer to a small loan and a mortgage for an apartment Alethea bought prior to her marriage and which now belongs to her husband and son. The pay-out will cover any outstanding payments relating to the property, said Georgiou.

“Earlier this year, Alpha then asked the hospice to fill in a form regarding her illness and some other information, which they did.”

She said that this was made all the more difficult as during the last four years the hospice has moved from the Evangelismos clinic, where Alethea’s medical records are stored, to St George’s clinic.

Three weeks ago, Alpha Bank – after having this form for some time – sent it back to the lawyer dealing with her daughter’s estate saying the hospice hadn’t filled it in properly, she said.

“Once again, I was forced to go back to the hospice and all the memories it holds, even though it’s in a different clinic, and ask the doctor to fill it in again. His reply was that he couldn’t fill it in any differently and asked for Alpha Bank to phone him to discuss it.”

A spokesman for the medical team at the hospice confirmed Georgiou’s version of events. “We don’t understand how it could be filled in differently and we need them to tell us what they need and we can help.”

He added that the forms must again be completed by the doctor who wrote the death certificate and confirmed that as yet, nobody from the insurance company has been in touch.

An added delay is that Alpha is now requesting a ‘Declaration of the cause of Death’.

“This is on the official death certificate, so why do they want the hospice to give them another one?” asked Georgiou.

In addition to these problems, Alethea’s mother is worried that she and her husband, as guarantors, may end up being held responsible for mortgage payments on her daughter and son-in-law’s house and that their own home may be at risk.

“They bought the house about seven or eight years ago and it is still owned by Adam. But it’s empty and up for sale. He now lives in the UK with my grandson. Alethea and Adam had a Swiss franc mortgage with Alpha – which is why the payments became impossible. Since 2011 when Alethea passed away, very little has been paid.”

The controversial Swiss Franc mortgages with Alpha Bank are already the subject of court action taken by hundreds of clients who were unable to keep up payments when the Swiss Franc soared in value.

“I don’t know our liability for sure, but being the guarantors I have been told by the lawyer dealing with Alethea’s estate that they (the bank) can take our home. He told us it would be easier for them to come to us as we live here than try and get anything from our son-in-law in England,” Georgiou said.

“Alpha Bank are putting me and my family through so much stress and we just want to sort it all out.”

Following a number of emails and telephone calls by the Sunday Mail to Alpha Bank and Alpha Insurance, the company responded in an email.

Riana Metti of Alpha Insurance wrote: “We will contact the lawyer that is handling the case as it seems that there may be a misunderstanding regarding the information outstanding. As you can understand this is a delicate matter involving personal data which we cannot disclose to people other than the beneficiaries of the deceased insured. We assure you that we will do our best to resolve the matter.”

A member of staff also confirmed by telephone, that it usually takes no more than three weeks to pay out a claim, once all of the paperwork has been completed.

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