Grieving mother in a paper chase for son's legacy

EVERY mother's worst nightmare came true for Dorothy Neish almost six months ago when she was told that her son John, who worked in Zimbabwe, had been killed in a car accident.

Since then, despite numerous letters and telephone calls, Mrs Neish has been unable to discover what has happened to an insurance policy started by her son with Prudential more than 20 years ago. She said she would like to use the money to provide for her son's five-year-old daughter, Lesley. However, because the policy was cancelled in circumstances that cannot now be ascertained, it will deliver up to £4,000 less than her granddaughter should receive.

This is because premium payements on the policy stopped in 1990. Many of the benefits to which her son was entitled were then frozen or discontinued. Although Prudential and her son's bank, Lloyds, have been sympathetic, she has reached stalemate with them. Neither's records show what happened to his premiums. Unless they budge, Mrs Neish's loss will be permanent.

She said: "When I heard my son had been killed, it really knocked me over, because his sister also died tragically in South Africa a few years ago. I originally wanted to use the insurance to pay for his funeral, but I was not able to get the money. Coming on top of everything else, it just seems so terrible.''

The cover Mr Neish took out in February 1974 was a whole-of-life policy. Under terms of the policy, his life was insured for £2,500, or double in the event of an accident resulting in death.

The premiums he paid were invested, so that the amount eventually to be paid out rose well above the original minimum insured sum.

Premiums of £30 a year were taken from his Lloyds account, but in 1988 Mr Neish closed one account with Lloyds and opened another. Prudential, however, continued to seek payment of its premiums from the closed account. The annual premium was paid from it in 1989, but was refused by Lloyds in 1990. Mrs Neish believes her son, who had worked for many years in Africa and travelled extensively for his company, was unaware of this.

"Given that the premiums were so small in relation to the benefits mounting up, I don't think he would willingly have given the policy up,'' she said. "There was always enough money in his account to make the payments, so that can't have been the cause either."

A Prudential spokeswoman said: "When we heard premiums had ceased because the account was closed, we tried to get in touch with him by sending a letter to a post office box in Zimbabwe, but received no reply.''

The company has no records to indicate whether the policy was ever deliberately cancelled.

Once the paperwork is sorted out, Mr Neish's policy will pay out about £8,000 to his mother. However, that sum has been frozen since 1990. In addition, Mr Neish also lost £2,500 payable as an additional accident bonus.

A Lloyds spokeswoman said: "Unfortunately, much of the paperwork regarding this case is no longer available. We therefore don't know what instructions the branch was acting on when it paid the direct debit in 1989 or when it returned it `account closed' in 1990.

"If the branch was remiss in its procedures, we would look at that sympathetically and do what we could to help put things right,'' she said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 per annum + commission: SThree: Sthree have an exciting opportunity for...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £32,000+

£18000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telesales Executive is requir...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat