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Insurance giant refuses to pay after heart attack

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

By Geoff Kirbyson, Winnipeg Freepress

Man sues, says broker omitted diabetes info from forms

Alfredo D’Agui, the owner of a downtown hair salon, is suing Great-West Life — Manitoba’s biggest company — after his $100,000 critical-illness insurance policy was declared null and void, despite having been approved two years earlier.

Alfredo D’Agui is not afraid of suing Great-West Life because, ‘I’m right and they’re wrong.’ 

D’Agui’s broker, Grant Page, and Page’s company, Financial Heights, are also named in the lawsuit. None of the allegations has been proven in court.

D’Agui alleges Page intentionally misrepresented his answers on the critical-illness questionnaire so the application would be approved and Page would collect commissions on the sale.

According to a statement of claim filed last week, D’Agui went to see Page at his office in June 2013 to apply for the critical-illness policy. As part of the required paperwork, D’Agui told Page he had Type 2 diabetes but did not require insulin. He described himself as a “borderline diabetic” who was taking medication for the condition.

D’Agui alleges although he told Page about his diabetes, Page did not properly record the information on his application.

Upon finishing the questionnaire, D’Agui alleges Page told him he was unsure whether his application would be approved. Within a few weeks, however, D’Agui says he received the news his application had gone through.

The trouble began more than a year later when D’Agui suffered a heart attack. Luckily, he thought, that was one of the conditions covered by his insurance. But when he applied for his benefits, Great-West told him it had nullified his policy due to “material misrepresentation” of not informing the company he had diabetes.

“I was devastated, quite panicked and emotionally shot. I was speechless for days. How would you feel if you felt you were safe and secure and the rug was pulled out from underneath you? I almost felt like I was going to have another heart attack. I felt I was screwed over, taken advantage of and lied to,” D’Agui said in an interview.

The fact Great-West sent him a cheque just a couple of days later for nearly $5,000 to return the premiums he had paid was no consolation.

“It was like they had the cheque ready,” he said.

D’Agui’s lawyer, Dave Hill, said the case is similar to a recent one involving Great-West Life. In December 2013, a Manitoba court found Great-West Life was responsible for the actions of a former broker, Gary Palmer, who bilked nearly two dozen clients out of $1.5 million. Palmer was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Hill said the crucial similarity between the two cases is the role of the company’s agent.

A spokeswoman for Great-West Life says the company does not comment on matters before the courts. A statement of defence has not been filed.

D’Agui said he’s not intimidated facing off against one of the giants of Canada’s financial services industry.

“I’m right and they’re wrong,” he said.