ACC payouts for death

Rob Kidd at Stuff reports:

A woman conned $125,000 out of by claiming she was the distraught widow of a man crushed to death in a building accident.

In reality Auckland woman Brunetta Hemi had dumped the man, walking out on their de-facto relationship five years before his death.

But when she heard that Waepeke Ruihana Tupaea had died, she contacted the undertaker and told him she was still Tupaea’s partner, then filled out a claim with ACC.

It saw her paid an immediate survivor’s grant of $5653 and she qualified for weekly compensation for the next five years. She drew the payments for nine months, then opted for a lump sum payout that saw ACC deposit $125,341 into her bank account.

Tupaea, 61, died in June 2009 when he was part of a crew moving a house on to a marae in the Auckland suburb of Manurewa.

A bulldozer hit the house, causing it to fall, killing Tupaea and 24-year-old workmate Marsh Terahi Wiri Peihopa.

The fraud is one issue. What interests me more, is the policy rationale for a relatively large payout for death by accident.

I’m all for ACC which covers income while people recover from an accident.

But should ACC be a form of life insurance?

Certainly I say it is appropriate to have some payout to family as it takes some time to adjust to the loss of an income earner. But five years of payments?

If your partner dies of a heart attack, you get nothing beyond any insurance policy they had, and general welfare insurance.

If they die of an accident, you get five years of survivor’s grants.

I’m really not sure how you rationalise the difference.

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