Case Study – 30 Year Old Stroke Victim


This claims case study is told from the point of view of the customer, Sam Benjamin. His wife, Erin, suffered a stroke shortly after her 30th birthday. Sam and Erin did not have a financial adviser, and Sam was left to manage the claim process alone, while dealing with the emotional stress of nearly losing his new wife.


At a glance

Submitted by: Sam Benjamin (unadvised client)
Claimant: 30 yr-old female, wife of Sam, Business Development Manager
Claim type: Trauma and income protection


In detail

On Saturday 19 November, 2011, Erin and I woke to go about our day – but something wasn’t quite right. Erin had been feeling out of sorts for the past fortnight, with a consistent headache, for which the local medical centre prescribed antibiotics and Panadol.

I was making coffee when Erin turned to me and said something that made no sense at all. I remembered the same thing happening to my mother years ago. We think Erin suffered a TIA (Trans Ischaemic Attack) or mini stroke.

I wanted to take her to hospital, but Erin insisted she was fine and finally agreed on a visit to our old GP. After a brief physical, we were given the all clear and went on our way. A brief stop for breakfast and we hit the road to suburbia for a dress fitting for a friend’s wedding. Two minutes into the trip, Erin started breathing deeply and feeling nauseous.

I pulled the car over to the kerb and placed it in park. Then I looked over to Erin and was confronted with an image that will remain with me the rest of my life.

My beautiful girl’s face was contorted, her jaw locked open to one side, her tongue spilling out of her mouth, eyes locked in a thousand yard stare. She was shaking violently, her chin seized to her collar bone and hands clawed like talons.

I would recommend anyone contemplating taking out these types of insurance to do so through a qualified financial adviser.

I screamed, threw the car into drive, and pulled a U-turn over the median strip in front of oncoming traffic. I knew the hospital was close (less than 500m). Erin began to turn blue. I rubbed her sternum to try to bring her around, without any luck. I remember hitting her in the chest with all my force to try and get a response… there was none… she was gone.

Screaming at the top of my lungs I pulled into the hospital’s ambulance bay. I remember slapping her across the face, but there was still no response – her body was rigid. I was pushed out of the way by some paramedics who got Erin out of the car and put her on the ground. They manipulated her twisted body into a position where she could breathe again.

Erin had suffered a stroke as a result of a blood clot becoming lodged in a vein inside her brain. She spent ten days in hospital, suffering another stroke whilst there. Fortunately, her physical symptoms disappeared after a few days and we were left with mostly cognitive and emotional issues. With the help of Erin’s doctors (there are a few now), our family and friends, Erin is recuperating well and should eventually make a full recovery.

Having both worked in the financial services industry for some years, Erin and I were well aware of the types of insurance on offer, and the benefits they can provide. I had taken out a trauma policy for myself some five years prior, and had been encouraging Erin to do the same. She finally took my advice in February 2011, which turned out to be extremely lucky, because the policy had a 6-month waiting period and Erin’s strokes occurred just 9 months after taking out the policy.

To date, we have accumulated over $60,000 in medical expenses. These expenses were mainly for Erin, but I also required help to deal with the shock of almost losing my wife. That amount was effectively all of our savings. Due to the existence of the trauma policy, our savings were replenished. We have set aside a portion of the benefit for her ongoing care, and we were able to use some of the proceeds to help buy our first house.

Erin was also fortunate enough to have income protection insurance through her employer, which means we are still receiving 75% of her income and will continue to do so until she returns to work, or reaches age 65. This was something we looked at cancelling when reading her employment contract! We’re so glad we didn’t!

With the benefit of hindsight, I would recommend anyone contemplating taking out these types of insurance to do so through a qualified financial adviser. Erin and I had to arrange for all the paperwork to be completed ourselves, and we faced an anxious five week wait for the claim to be processed. Having an adviser to manage the process would have made the experience significantly less stressful, and allowed us to focus 100% of our energies on Erin’s recovery.

You can read more of Erin’s story at her blog: A Stroke of Genius?

We sincerely thank both Erin and Sam for sharing their story.