A widow from Kelowna, B.C., says Canada Life Assurance Company has cut off monthly payments from an annuity her late husband set up more than 30 years ago.

Shirley Krushen, 74, says her husband, Brownie Krushen, sold his business in the 1980s and took the money to an insurance agent to set up the annuity. The agent helped him take out a policy with the Confederation Life Insurance Company.

The Krushens thought they were purchasing a joint life annuity, and Confederation Life sent a letter stating the annuity payments would continue during Brownie Krushen's lifetime and would continue for the duration of Shirley Krushen's life if her husband passed away before she did. The first monthly cheque of $700 arrived in the fall of 1984.

"We were told numerous time by (the agent) that there's no problem. Everything would go and turn over to me when Brownie passed," said Shirley Krushen.

In 1994, Confederation Life was forced into liquidation and the Krushen's policy was taken over by Canada Life.

After Brownie Krushen died last February, Shirley Krushen received a letter from Canada Life stating her husband had a single life annuity that ended with his death, and there would be no further payments. A copy of the original Confederation Life annuity application form signed by Brownie Krushen shows that a single life annuity was purchased.

Complaint filed with Canada Life ombudsman

Shirley Krushen says the information came as a surprise.

"I had no reason to doubt that they weren't going to be sending the cheques any more. It was a confirmation over and over again from (the agent)."

She filed a complaint with Canada Life's ombudsman. In a letter sent last July, ombudsman Kathy Langford confirmed her husband was issued a single life annuity. The company apologized for the inaccurate information in the letter from Confederation Life, but stated the payments ended with her husband's death.

Krushen is not satisfied with the decision. She says she and her husband acted to their detriment by believing the insurance agent and trusting the letter from Confederation Life.

"It's been very stressful. Brownie got in on the days when a handshake was the truth. But I guess things have changed nowadays." 

Krushen has taken the matter to an independent ombudsman, and is considering legal action.

In a written statement, Canada Life spokesperson Marlene Klassen says the company is working closely on the matter with the outside ombudservice, and would not comment while the review process is under way.