This case study details the pro bono work of Western Australian adviser, Rebecca Newton, who won the pro bono category Award in Financial Wisdom’s 2010 Value of Advice Awards. It highlights how advisers can add value during the claims process and how claims impact the family of the claimant, as well as the life insured.
At a glance
Provided by: Financial Wisdom
Adviser: Rebecca Newton
Business: Prestige Wealth Partners
Clients: Husband and wife with three children, wife diagnosed with breast cancer
When Richard and Stephanie White* first contacted Rebecca Newton of Prestige Wealth Partners Pty Ltd** (WA), things had really hit rock bottom. On top of two serious illnesses, the couple and their three children had lost their only source of income and were facing a bleak and uncertain future.
Stephanie had been diagnosed with breast cancer which she was continuing to battle. Richard, a self employed carpenter, had to take time off work to take Stephanie to her hospital appointments.
With less time available for work, he lost his contract with the builder who was his main source of employment.
At this stage, Stephanie and Richard began to struggle with paying the mortgage, car loan and bills. Even putting food on the table for the family was becoming difficult.
With Stephanie’s deteriorating health and now no income, Richard sank into depression.
He had also been halfway through building the house they were living in, but with no money to buy supplies this had to be put on hold. As a result they were living in an incomplete house, adding further to their already stressful situation.
In desperation, they contacted a number of financial advisers to see if anyone would be willing to donate their time and knowledge to help them, but all said no. Then they saw an ad for Prestige Wealth Partners in the local paper and decided to contact Rebecca.
At first, Rebecca was unsure of whether she could help them or not, but decided to meet them and hear their story. “I drove out one night to their house in country WA,” Rebecca said, “because until you meet someone face to face and understand their whole situation, it’s hard to know whether you can help them or not.”
until you meet someone face to face and understand their whole situation, it’s hard to know whether you can help them or not
Once she became aware of the dire situation they were in, she decided to do whatever she could to help. “It was very clear that they didn’t have any funds to pay for my advice, but their financial position had become so stressful that it was affecting Stephanie’s recovery and had led to depression for Richard. So I agreed to work with them on a pro bono basis.”
During their initial fact find session, Rebecca asked Richard and Stephanie if they had any life insurance policies. “Stephanie told me she had death cover with a major retail insurance company, so I asked for a copy of the policy schedule. In reading the schedule, I noticed a trauma benefit as a rider to the death cover that they weren’t aware of. I discussed what this meant, without getting their hopes up.”
After looking into the terms of the trauma policy, Rebecca realised that a trauma claim could be made that could help them with their financial woes.
“Stephanie and Richard didn’t know that they could claim under this policy and had been struggling for about 12 months before I came along. When I told them they could claim, they didn’t even know where to start.”
They needed direction, support and guidance which Rebecca was able to provide in spades. “Because they were so absorbed in Stephanie’s recovery, it was important that I was able to relieve the pressure from them of having to worry about paperwork, following things up and making sure everything was in place.”
Rebecca did all the time-consuming paperwork for them, helped the couple fill out all the forms and scanned the files through to the insurance company. However, they hit a roadblock when Stephanie’s doctor delayed excessively in providing a Specialist Report which was needed for the claim.
“After six weeks, the situation was getting critical for Richard and Stephanie if they were to keep their home,” Rebecca explained. “As a last resort, they dropped Stephanie’s hospital file in to me in case any of the other reports would help.
“I rang the head of claims at the insurance company, explained the problem and asked if there was anything else we could do. He made the decision that as Stephanie had been a long standing client of theirs we could go through the medical file over the phone, to see if there was anything else in the file that could be used instead of the specialist report.”
After four long hours on the phone going through the file, he was eventually satisfied with the quality of the other evidence of Stephanie’s condition to waive the report.
On 23 February 2010, Rebecca received the cheque in the post for Stephanie’s claim. “I rang them immediately to make an appointment for me to come and see them, and the next morning I hand delivered the cheque to them. To be able to relieve this financial pressure from them was just so rewarding, and the look on their faces was priceless!”
To be able to relieve this financial pressure from them was just so rewarding, and the look on their faces was priceless!
Thanks to the payout from the claim, Stephanie, Richard and their children are now in a better position, both financially and in their lives in general.
With the financial pressure off them they were able to concentrate on improving their health. Stephanie has recovered from her breast cancer and she has started a business as a driving instructor. They’ve got some money in the bank and have managed to catch up on all their bills. Richard is no longer on antidepression medication and his health has improved significantly.
They see Rebecca quite regularly now; Richard now has insurance on himself and they’re starting to look at investments. They have also been able to do some work on the house, creating a more stable environment for their children.
“When I first met them they were living in a house that wasn’t complete – now each time I see them there are new improvements to the house. They finished the games room for the children, whereas before there wasn’t even a roof on it.
“Overall, this experience is one of the reasons I’m a financial planner. Providing good financial advice can have a huge impact on people’s lives and especially in Richard and Stephanie’s case, it can really help to relieve financial stress when it’s not required.”
* Names have been changed to protect the clients’ privacy.
** Prestige Wealth Partners Pty Ltd is an Authorised Representative of Financial Wisdom
Important Information: This case study has been prepared by Financial Wisdom Limited ABN 70 006 646 108, AFS Licence number 231138 (Financial Wisdom), who is the provider of general and personal financial product advice services. Financial Wisdom is a wholly owned, but non-guaranteed, subsidiary of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124. Information in this case study is based on its understanding of current regulatory requirements and laws as at 15 September 2010 and may be subject to change. Financial Wisdom advisers are representatives of Financial Wisdom Limited. This case study is for illustrative purposes only. Individual circumstances may vary and this will alter the outcome. Not all life Insurance policies contain trauma benefits or riders. This case study may include general advice but does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. When considering a financial product you should read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) available from the product issuer carefully and assess whether the information in this case study is appropriate for you. You should consider talking to a financial adviser before making a financial decision. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, it is not guaranteed. Copyright © 2010 all rights reserved Financial Wisdom Limited ABN 70 006 646 108.