Claims Stories

Susan's Story

“Our insurance policies hadn’t been updated for over 10 years and so didn’t adequately cover us for our situation at that time,” Susan explains.


A good friend, who was also an insurance adviser, sat down with Susan to review her insurance policies and convinced her that she needed to protect her income, particularly now she was a solo mum and the breadwinner for the family.


“I had already learnt that it was important to have insurance to provide for my children if I died, but I had never been sick or suffered an injury, so my instant reaction was ‘no way, I’m not wasting that much money’. My adviser was adamant and pointed out that I still needed to be able to provide for my children if I became unwell or suffered an accident. He showed me what I might receive from ACC and/or a sickness benefit, and I realised it was not enough, so I reluctantly agreed.”


One year later Susan was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. When Susan approached OnePath to make her claim she admitted to feeling anxious because of the general lack of understanding about her illness.


However, when her claim was accepted, she was hugely relieved and able to focus on her recovery without having to worry about her finances. And with the support of her OnePath Claims Specialist, Susan has made huge progress towards getting back to work as soon as possible.

“I have always been apprehensive about insurance companies and particularly with my illness I had thought it would be a struggle. In fact, it’s been the exact opposite and I’ve felt supported the whole way through.”


Susan is currently working three days a week and hoping to get back to four days a week if everything continues to go well. She says that if she hadn’t had the security of her regular insurance payments she would have lost her house, and her children would have suffered through a drastic change in their lifestyle.


After everything she’s been through Susan now believes that “insurance is an absolute must – particularly if you are the sole breadwinner”. After the loss of her husband and her illness she regularly reviews all of her insurances to make sure they’re right for her circumstances, because as Susan well knows – you never know what’s around the corner.

Michael's Story

Michael and Sarah shared a passion for the arts and a love of poetry. Both had worked hard to pursue their dream careers, and when they embarked on their most important role as parents, they took out insurance to protect their family and lifestyle. Little did they realise at the time, how soon they would need it.


Michael and Sarah met when they were 18 while visiting Japan on a Lions Club scholarship. Michael is from Germany and Sarah from Christchurch. To be together they decided to move to England to study. Sarah completed an MA in Irish literature at Leeds University, followed by a doctorate in modern poetry at Oxford University. She then lectured English literature in Oxford. Michael became a lawyer.


In 1999, Michael and Sarah got married and shortly after, they decided to move back to New Zealand to further their careers and eventually start a family.


By 2008, writing poetry had become Sarah’s full-time occupation. Michael and Sarah were enjoying parenthood, raising two young sons and expecting their third child, a daughter. What was such an exciting and special time of their life suddenly became filled with grief and uncertainty when they received some devastating news.


Sarah had been experiencing a progressive shortness of breath during her pregnancy, and at 28 weeks pregnant she was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer. Her baby was delivered safely and Sarah, a fit non-smoker, was given just months to live.


Only a short time prior to Sarah’s shock diagnosis, Michael and Sarah had met with their insurance adviser to discuss a protection plan for their family in the unlikely event something like this was to happen. Still coming to terms with the situation, they at least had peace of mind knowing that their insurance would provide for Sarah’s treatment and changes to their lifestyle.


Because Sarah’s diagnosis was terminal, OnePath paid her full Life Cover benefit immediately. Her Major Medical Cover provided for private and immediate medical tests and procedures, including chemotherapy. Sarah and Michael also used some of the early Life Cover payment to seek other drug therapies and Sarah traveled to Melbourne and Boston for treatment.


Although this was an exhausting ordeal, Sarah was determined to give it her all to survive. She was responding well to treatment as well as a number of alternative therapies, including acupuncture, reiki, psychotherapy, meditation and an extreme diet. Through all of this she continued to write poetry.


The months that Sarah was initially given to live turned into years, and during this time she published her first book of poetry Tigers at Awhitu. The poems reflect on relationships, the physical extremes of illness and the complexities of motherhood.


Sadly, despite Sarah’s strong desire to live and see her children grow up, her health eventually began to deteriorate. In addition to her Major Medical Cover and Life Cover, Sarah also had Complete Disablement Cover which was payable when she became very ill and daily life with a young family was becoming more challenging.


With the help of their insurance, Michael was able to take more time away from work to be with Sarah and the children. “The combination of insurances we had in place was such a huge help. When you have so much to worry about, it’s nice not to have to think about money. You can just get on and do what you need to do, and Sarah gave it everything.”


A little over five years after her initial diagnosis, Sarah passed away. She survived long enough to see her daughter go to school.


Sarah’s second poetry collection Gleam was published posthumously in August 2013. In memory of Sarah, her love of poetry, zest for life and the spirit of imagination and determination that marked her life and work, Michael has established the Sarah Broom Poetry Prize which celebrates and recognizes poetry in New Zealand.


Ask yourself…


If I died, how would my family cope financially? What do I want for their future?


Things to think about…


Life Cover is an easy and cost-effective way to provide for your family. Once it’s in place you can rest assured that you have done the right thing for you and your family, and you only need to revisit it if your circumstances change.




One in eight males and one in 12 females over the age of 30 will die before they reach age 65.

Source: Statistics New Zealand 2004, NZ Life Tables 2000-2002.

Prue & Kyle's Story

Prue and Kyle were living the Kiwi dream. In their late 20s they had traveled the world together before deciding to settle in Auckland where they purchased their first home. They enjoyed getting stuck into house renovations straight away and in January 2012 they celebrated their wedding in the company of many family and friends. “We were in such a happy, positive space.  Marriage, house, baby on the way (hopefully) – life was great.”


Just months later, Prue and Kyle’s world was turned upside down. Prue found a lump in her breast and their greatest fear was soon realised – she had breast cancer. “A pretty intense way to start our first year of marriage.”


Suddenly the future seemed so uncertain.  With so many things going through her mind – treatment, work, how Kyle and her family would cope and the possibility of the cancer taking her life, Prue was overwhelmed with worry.  “I was just so scared and didn’t know what was to come”.


Coming to terms with their situation, Prue and Kyle felt some relief knowing that they had medical insurance to assist them through this difficult time. “The fact that we had insurance was just so brilliant because my doctor said to me ‘we can refer you to a specialist through the public system or you can go private’, and we said well we’ve got insurance, let’s use it.” Prue and Kyle were able to meet with their oncologist that same day and for the first time since the diagnosis, they felt in control.


Kyle called their adviser to make a claim on their insurance.  Much to Prue’s delight, he helped Kyle with all of the ‘admin’ work she would normally deal with; telling her that all she needed to worry about was herself. With the help of their adviser and their OnePath Claims Specialist the whole claim process was quick and hassle-free.


There are multiple reasons why Prue and Kyle are thankful that they made the smart decision to take out insurance. For Prue, not having to wait was the most important thing.  A natural planner, Prue was able to see the doctors of her choice,who sped things along, keeping her informed every step of the way.


Not having any financial stress also made a big difference. “All up the treatment Prue has received has totaled over $100,000.  We wouldn’t have been able to renovate the house as fast as we have. It was one thing we didn’t have to worry about,” says Kyle.


When Prue and Kyle took out their insurance policy they never imagined they would need it as soon as they did. Prue’s advice to others is, “Be as prepared as you can be and don’t always think it’s going to happen to someone else, because it may be you.”


“It’s just one of those things you’ve got to plan for,” adds Kyle. “You insure your car, you insure your house – your health is one thing you’ve got to take care of as well.”


With Prue’s health now improving, life is starting to return to normal. She is back to helping Kyle with the house renovations and loving every minute.


Ask yourself…


If I get sick, am I prepared to join the public hospital waiting list or could I afford to pay for private treatment?


Things to think about…


Many private hospital treatments can cost upwards of $20,000 (e.g. radiation therapy (one course of treatment) $15,000 – $27,000, total knee replacement $15,300 – $28,000, cardiac bypass (heart surgery) $35,000 – $57,000). Major Medical Cover provides for the reimbursement of major medical expenses and allows you to gain immediate access to the best care available.




One in nine women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some time in their lives.

Source: Ministry of Health/BCA (2009)

Client Membership Benefits Case Study

With a new baby and a toddler to care for she felt stressed and anxious. In desperation she phoned her adviser to find out if she could obtain any assistance with counseling.


Allison thought it was unlikely that this would be the case, so she was surprised and relieved when her adviser told her about OnePath’s Client Membership Benefits.


“I was so pleased to find out about this service, because I was not expecting anything.”


OnePath approved Allison’s request for lifestyle support services and Allison and her husband were referred to a psychologist for help with his depression. This in turn opened up ‘a can of worms’ which resulted, in the end, in the breakdown of their marriage. Allison points out that while this was not the outcome she was expecting, she “dreads to think how things would have unraveled without the help of the psychologist.”


OnePath also approved Allison’s request to continue to receive counseling for herself, which she says was a “lifeline’”, because it enabled her to get through a very difficult time, and wasn’t something she could afford to pay for at that point.


“The ongoing counseling helped me to cope with my situation. It also helped me deal with the children during the tough times. I was able to learn how to manage my emotions and to pro-actively help the children.”


“Because my children are covered by my Major Medical Cover (OnePath’s health insurance), I was also able to use the Client Membership Benefits to get counseling for my daughter who was having a particularly hard time adapting to the change in her life.”


“I hate to think where I’d be without the counseling my daughter and I received, and I’m so grateful to OnePath for providing this service. It’s really something “out of the box”, and it truly helped stop me from heading down the slippery slope to depression.”

Would you be able to make ends meet if you fell seriously ill?

Richard*, a 43-year-old plumber was diagnosed with metastatic cancer in June 2007. The last thing he needed was the added worry of not being able to work on top of a serious illness.


Fortunately, the year before Richard had taken out two Fidelity Life policies: 1. Critical Care and Waiver of Premium policy to provide a lump-sum payment upon diagnosis of certain serious medical conditions. 2. Life Care, Income Protection & Waiver of Premium policy designed to provide protection for separate critical illnesses, Income Protection which provides the insured with a regular income through accident or illness and Waiver of Premium which ensures that the premiums are kept up to date while the insured is unable to work.


So, after minimal fuss, under his policies, Richard received two lump sum payments under his Critical Care and Life Care benefits, plus his Income Protection cover meant he also had regular money coming in.


More piece of mind came in the form of the waiver of premium benefit under both of his polices. This meant that Richard’s Fidelity Life premiums were taken care of, while he was off work to under go treatment and recover.


By January 2008, Richard was back at work and his claims were closed. Just one month later, Richard found out that his cancer had reoccurred. He may not have been prepared for this emotionally, but he found some relief in the fact that his Fidelity Life Income Protection and Waiver of Premium claim for both policies were re-opened under the Recurrent Disability clause in his policy. This means that he’s still receiving a monthly income and his premiums are being paid for while he’s unable to work.

Nightmare Holiday

When Brian* and his wife traveled to South America for a well-earned holiday, it turned into a nightmare that almost cost Brian his life.


On the fourth day of the holiday, Brian started feeling unwell, but he didn’t think that his symptoms of itchiness, rash and lethargy were serious. Upon returning home to Wellington, his symptoms worsened. He was diagnosed with an infectious disease which he contracted while he was away.


Brian’s recovery was slow and on top of six weeks in hospital, he spent another six weeks in rehabilitation to help him regain his strength and recover fully from complications of the illness. Since Brian is a self-employed contractor, he took out a Fidelity Life Income Protection Policy upon the advice of his independent financial adviser. Income Protection cover is designed to ensure that if illness or accident occurs, resulting in a sustained inability to work, that an individual’s income will not cease. A prolonged absence from work or a return to work in a reduced capacity could have a severe impact on your future financial security.


If you were to fall ill for a significant amount of time, would you still be able to meet your financial obligations? Brian gradually returned to work and he received a partial income protection benefit until he was well enough to work full time again, nearly six months after the holiday. It just goes to show that you never know what’s around the corner.

What would happen if you couldn’t pay your mortgage?

Towards the end of last year, John*, who’s in mid-40s, found out he had prostate cancer.


Under his Fidelity Life Mortgage Protector policy he had cover which meant that he had some money coming in while he was having treatment in hospital. The standard Mortgage Protector cover is designed to pay out a lump sum (usually to pay off the balance of the insured person’s outstanding mortgage balance), upon the event of death. But John had chosen to buy extra benefits under his Mortgage Protection policy.


He had done that in the form of Income Protection cover, which meant that if he was to get ill and unable to work for an extended period of time he’d still receive an income. Which is exactly what happened.


The money that the family received while John was ill was a lifeline, which meant that after the stand-down period, they had enough money to pay some outstanding bills, and keep the ‘wolf from the door’. He’d also added the Waiver of Premium benefit. This meant that once his Mortgage Protector claim had been placed, any premiums paid during the assessment period were refunded when the claim was accepted. While John received the Income Protection benefit, Fidelity Life continued to pay the premiums.


Now, John is back at work, and his consultant has told him that the cancer has been excised completely.


During the year ended 30 June 2008, Fidelity Life paid over $5.6 million in Income Protection claims, for 271 people. John is one of 20,548 people covered by Fidelity Life Income Protection cover (as at 31 December). If you don’t have a plan in place to cover your income if you get sick or have an accident, talk to your financial adviser about products to give you peace of mind.


What’s Income Protection?


Your ability to earn an income is one of your most valuable assets. If disability stops you from working, how will you meet your financial commitments? Income Protection Plan insurance provides a regular income if you are unable to work due to continuing illness or injury. Our Income Protection plan has a range of features and additional options to allow us to customise the product to suit your individual needs. Also, if your income increases and you’ve not increased your cover to match, you may have the option to do so without further medical underwriting. This policy summary is not, and is not intended to be, a policy document. Details of definitions, benefits, terms and conditions are contained in the official policy document which is available from your financial adviser. You should read the policy document carefully to make sure you understand exactly what cover is provided under each benefit. This information is indicative only, and is provided as an example to illustrate the benefits available under Mortgage Protector from Fidelity Life. Talk to your independent financial adviser about your options and what’s right for you.


Why do you need it?


The financial impact of a disability or extended illness could be devastating for your lifestyle and the people that depend on you. A prolonged absence from work or a return to work in a reduced capacity could have a severe effect on your future financial security.


Around one in six of the working age population has a disability. Of those, 10% are disease or illness-related and 38% are attributed to accident or injury. *


Prostate cancer facts


  • It is the third most common cause of death from cancer for men (after lung and bowel cancer) and the chances of being diagnosed with prostate cancer increases every decade after the age of 50.
  • Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among New Zealand men, representing 27% of all new cancer cases in New Zealand.