Brooklyn widow left angered, anguished after life insurance problem

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Saturday, January 21, 2023
Brooklyn widow left angered, anguished after life insurance problem
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A grieving widow needed help on a life insurance problem over a death certificate technicality in Nassau County. Nina Pineda has the story.

BROWNSVILLE, Brooklyn (WABC) -- A Brooklyn mother and wife was grief-stricken, dealing with the sudden and tragic death of her husband, but when a frustrating technicality tripped up what should've been an easy life insurance claim, the widow turned her anguish into action and called for help from Nina Pineda and 7 On Your Side.

Lynn, who did not want her last name used, said her husband had a great sense of humor and always made people laugh. His life was tragically cut short.

Sylvester, a construction worker, slipped while doing demolition at a work site last May.

"All I was told was that he was on a ladder, fell off, hit his head on concrete or something, they called 911, that was it," Lynn said.

When the 51-year-old died, the widow was left with some big bills, including the funeral, which can't be paid until they can collect his life insurance death benefit.

So she started processing the claim in July, but it kept getting denied.

"Very frustrating, because my husband was the sole provider and being that he passed away, it made things very difficult," Lynn said.

The life insurance company wants a certified original death certificate as specified in a letter to process the claim. But all Lynn could get a hold of was a copy.

"I'm sending the one I got from the funeral home which is a certified copy with a raised seal," she said.

But it has been rejected twice with a request for an original only.

"For me its infuriating and she's going through a hard time and they're making it even harder," Lynn's son said.

The problem is in the town of Hempstead where her husband died, they only issue certified copies of death certificates.

7 On Your Side confirmed it with the Registrar's Office of Vital Statistics, which said they cannot and do not ever hand out original death certificates

"I was between overwhelmed, frustrated and angry," Lynn said.

And she says when she tried to reach the company, they stopped communicating with her.

The tenacious homemaker and mother of four called 7 On Your Side and we contacted the life insurance company appealing for help.

The insurer said it was highly unusual to encounter this level of difficulty from a Vital Statistics office, adding:

"Our proof of loss requirements are in place due to the fraudulent death certificates we sometimes receive. We will make an exception due to the difficulties she has had with Hempstead Vital Statistics."

And 72 hours later, they received the entire life insurance payout of $71,196.71.

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