CR166 Surrender – forged signature on surrender documents

See too: CR, Surrender,

CR166

Surrender – forged signature on surrender documents

Background

The complainant, at the suggestion of his personal banker, discussed his life insurance portfolio with the bank’s insurance broking arm. Following discussions with the broker the complainant signed a number of documents, seemingly without giving them much attention, but he alleges that he was under the impression he was granting the broker access to his portfolio details. In fact he was signing an application for a new contract which would replace his existing life portfolio. However, the complainant is adamant that he did not in fact sign a request for the surrender of his earlier contracts although a signed surrender request was submitted to the insurance company concerned. The surrender requests were submitted by the broker, without the complainant’s knowledge, and the complainant avers that the signature on the documents was not in fact his.

Assessment

A forensic investigation was undertaken which included an opinion regarding the signature on the surrender requests. The documents were submitted for handwriting analysis by a handwriting expert who expressed the view that all the signatures that appeared on these documents were not those of the complainant.

This complaint was referred both to the insurer and to the broker involved. Both the insurer and the broking house accepted that the documents relating to the surrender were not in fact either completed or signed by the complainant.

Result

Matters were resolved by the reinstatement of the surrendered contracts which necessitated the refund of a surrender value which the complainant had already received. In addition, as the complainant had in fact incurred expenses in his attempts to resolve this dispute, (he consulted attorneys and also an independent broker) the complainant was awarded compensation of R15 000. This compensatory award, which made under provision of the Ombudsman’s rule 3.2.5, was paid by the broking house involved.

D M
April 2006

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