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Widower fights to keep home as insurer won't pay out after wife's death


Danny O'Connor and family

Danny O'Connor and family

Danny O'Connor and family

A father-of-three broke down in tears as he described his fight to keep the family home after an insurer refused to honour his wife's life insurance.

Danny O'Connor (40), whose wife Ashling (32) died seven years ago, said he had no idea what would happen after he was served notice by his mortgage provider that the family's home would be repossessed this November.

Danny and his late wife took out a mortgage when they bought the house for €420,000 in 2008.

Mrs O'Connor is believed to have died from lupus - an inflammatory disease caused when the immune system attacks its own tissue.

However, her husband said she was "unaware" of her condition right up until her death.

"It's been very hard for our three children because they're older now and understand what's happening.

"They never got to say goodbye to their mother, and now, with everything going on with the mortgage, it's all starting to become too much," the emotional father said at the end of the interview on Newstalk's Pat Kenny Show.

Mr O'Connor said insurers Irish Life had refused to honour his wife's policy after her death in 2008, leading him to fall into arrears with Stepstone mortgages.

"They refused to pay out because my wife had been admitted to A&E two years before we bought our house. They claimed we did not disclose the full details of her illness," he said.

"On the application form, it asked if she had ever been sent to a hospital in the past five years and she hadn't ... the only time she was at A&E during this time was when she was having a baby.

"It had nothing to do with what she died from."

Mr O'Connor said his wife's consultant had told Irish Life that "at no time" before she became ill in 2008 had she been aware of her illness.

"My wife was taken to the ICU in Tallaght Hospital, and I was told after a few days she had a mild case of lupus. She never came home.

"Her lungs got worse and she died November 2008. It took Irish Life eight months to tell me they wouldn't be paying out.

"We'd never missed a payment [on our mortgage] up until then because money was never a problem," he said.

Stepstone mortgages declined to comment.

In a statement, Irish Life said: "For customer privacy reasons Irish Life does not comment on individual claims. While we might wish to make a general comment on this occasion, we have been advised not to do so due to ongoing legal proceedings."