South Australian mother Danielle Richardson is dying from cancer and has just months to live.
But instead of spending her precious time with her family, they have been embroiled in a bitter dispute with the ANZ bank.
Back in 2016, Danielle got a call from a representative at the bank which ended up with her opening a super account with ANZ.
Danielle didn’t know it at the time, but the consequences of that call would end up putting Danielle and her family “through hell”.
Just shy of her 50th birthday, the mother-of-two struggles to find the words to describe the ordeal. Nine months ago, Danielle was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour.
The news devastated the family. “It’s the sort of thing you don’t wish on your worst enemy,” Danielle’s husband Brenton told A Current Affair. “This is so hard.”
The terrible situation was made worse though when Danielle and her husband tried to access Danielle’s life cover they’d held for several years. “We rang up and we went to claim,” husband Brenton explains, “and yeah, they said it wasn’t there, it wasn’t activated.”
Unbeknownst to the Richardsons, Danielle had lost her life insurance after a call with the ANZ bank.
Danielle received the call back in 2016, while she was working for the Save The Children charity.
Danielle is at work when she receives the call and explains to the ANZ representative that she is driving between meetings. A Current Affair has obtained the damning audio recording.
“I’m just at work though at the moment,” Danielle tells the telemarketer.
“Okay no problem, letting you know it does take between five to ten minutes of your time, so it’s pretty straight forward,” the ANZ representative responds, pushing to keep Danielle on the line.
“So, we’ll be as quick as possible,” the telemarketer continues. “I don’t have any info in front of me though,” says Danielle.
“That’s alright, you don’t need anything in front of you.” The call ends up lasting more than 30 minutes, during which time Danielle is clearly distracted and confused.
At one point during the call, Danielle actually asks the ANZ representative: “So what if I, if I die, what would the family get?”
She also tells the telemarketer that she has life insurance with another company. “No problem… absolutely fine, no worries,” the representative tells her.
In the end, she agrees to open a new super account with the ANZ.
Danielle doesn’t fully understand though that if she transfers her super, she’ll lose the death cover attached to her old accounts. It is something the bank never explains during the call.
“I just feel betrayed… I was an advocate for them [ANZ] and I basically was a salesman for them. I said, look Danielle, go with these guys, everything’s great,” husband Brenton says.
The Richardson family has now enlisted the help of Michael Fabbro from Erza Legal, who says he was gobsmacked when he heard the phone recording.
“I was really shocked that the pressure had been applied in a situation where Danielle was clearly distracted, didn’t have time,” Lawyer Michael Fabbro tells A Current Affair.
“It’s poor, I think it’s negligent, I think they had a real obligation to make sure that Danielle really understood what she was doing.”
Following the call, ANZ bank did sent a letter to the Richardson family warning them Danielle’s new super account would impact her life insurance. But that warning is in the fine print of the bank’s welcome letter, at the bottom of the second page.
“You will need to consider whether moving your money from your current fund will affect any insurance cover…” the letter reads.
The ANZ also stands by the call to Danielle and claims they made it clear she was opting out of life insurance but could add it later. Their full statement appears below. Unfortunately, Danielle’s prognosis isn’t good. Her doctors predict her condition will only deteriorate as the weeks go by.
Her only hope now a world away from the picturesque waters of Port Lincoln. In Japan researchers are trialing a revolutionary treatment. Trouble is the family just doesn’t have the money to get there.
Without life insurance, Danielle’s parents have had to pay the family’s mortgage.
Danielle’s husband Brenton says he’s already spent $60,000 on surgery, quitting his job to become Danielle’s full-time carer.
Danielle’s previous death and disablement insurance totaled more than $600,000. A significant portion of which may have been paid out before she passed.
“I’ve had that achieved for a number of clients and it makes a significant difference to the way in which they can live out the balance of their lives,” the family’s lawyer Mr Fabbro says.