Insurance company AMI has offered a $250 payout to make up for more than $23,000 stolen in a Wainuiomata home invasion.
In a cruel twist, a little more than $1000 of the cash stolen from Trevor and Marie Cotter, 74 and 64, had been put aside to pay their home and contents insurance premiums.
Late last month, three men wearing dark clothes and balaclavas and carrying baseball bats broke into the Cotters' house early in the morning.
"They pulled back my bed clothes and jumped on top of me," Mrs Cotter said yesterday.
When she screamed, one man slapped her in the face before "manhandling" her to her husband's room, where she was hog- tied and gagged.
She believed it was a targeted attack: "It's not a random thing." In the weeks leading to the attack, the pair had received threatening phone calls.
The men made off with the pair's life savings of more than $23,000 in cash, the safe it was in, and up to $7000 in jewellery.
Mrs Cotter, who had been insured through AMI for a "very long time", said she had been told by the company that the most she would be paid out for the missing cash was $250.
For the jewellery, which she estimated was valued $6000 to $7000, she said AMI had said she would get a maximum $1000 because it was not individually noted on their policy.
"I am really seriously thinking about changing insurance [companies] but I don't believe one is better than the other."
Mrs Cotter said she was "absolutely disgusted" with AMI. "What do we pay our insurance for? When you want help, you don't get it."
The theft had left the couple, both pensioners, unable to pay bills, including their upcoming insurance premium in November. That bill had also gone up by $500 since the home invasion.
Mrs Cotter has returned to selling homemade treats at her regular market spots at Riverbank Market in Lower Hutt and the Underground Market at Frank Kitts Park.
The public and other stall- holders had been "marvellous" with support, cards, and flowers, she said. Today she was taking quotes for the stolen safe, jewellery, and clothes to AMI.
AMI spokesman Craig Dowling confirmed its "advanced contents policy" had a $250 cash limit.
However, he said the Cotters could claim up to $1000 per stolen piece of jewellery, not - as Mrs Cotter believed - $1000 for the whole lot.
Staff at the Lower Hutt branch had "gone to lengths" to help the Cotters, he said. "It is a awful situation when circumstances deliver an outcome where a person's loss is not fully covered by their level of insurance . . . I am aware that they have said some of the funds stolen included amounts set aside for their insurance, and we will talk with them about that."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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