Calvin Tobin's family should get $15K from Sun Life, says FFAW didn't know insurance plan

Calvin Tobin's family should qualify for half of his death benefit and they say the FFAW did not know its own insurance policy.

Grace periods common on Sun Life Financial insurance plans

Calvin Tobin, 25, died in the hours following a car crash on Aug. 1 — a day after his insurance expired. At least one insurance company says Tobin's family should still qualify for benefits. (Submitted)

After going public with their struggle, the family of a dead fisherman says they will be compensated and the union got its own insurance policy wrong.

In a meeting with the Food, Fish and Allied Workers union on Friday morning, Calvin Tobin's family was told they could receive at least $15,000 in death benefits.

According to the family, the FFAW spent days saying Tobin's beneficiary did not qualify for benefits.

"Why weren't we told this?" said Richard Brewer, the deceased man's uncle. "What kind of clown show is being run in that fishery union that's supposed to be there for us?"

No union officials were available for comment on Friday and the FFAW will not comment on individual cases, a spokesperson said.

Standard grace periods

Tobin, 25, died in a highway crash one day after his union fees were due. He was in arrears by $180.

The family says it was told repeatedly they would not receive his $30,000 death benefit because Tobin did not pay his full dues for the 2016 season.

But on Friday morning, a spokesperson for Sun Life Financial called CBC News and said the family should qualify for his company's portion of that amount.

A Sun Life Financial spokesperson could not comment on specifics, but said a family should be covered if their loved one dies within 31 days of non-payment. (Fred Thornhill/Reuters)

A fish harvester is eligible for $15,000 from Sun Life Financial in life insurance, and another $15,000 from Industrial Alliance for accidental death and dismemberment.

Tobin's family still qualifies for Sun Life's portion of the benefit, since the company has a 31-day grace period for late payments.

"Anyone who is within that 31-day window should be eligible for their basic coverage," said Gannon Loftus, director of communications for Sun Life Financial.

It is unclear if Industrial Alliance also has a grace period. CBC News has left an inquiry with the company.

Family says it questioned union on grace period

On Thursday afternoon, FFAW president Keith Sullivan was noncommittal on whether or not there was a grace period.

"We're certainly discussing it with individuals and the insurance company on how that could work," he said.

FFAW president Keith Sullivan was asked on Thursday if the union's life insurance plan had a grace period, but did not say yes or no. On Friday, the family was told there was. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

Richard and Carol Ann Brewer both said they asked FFAW officials about the possibility of a grace period during conversations this week. They say a straight answer was never given.

However, according to Loftus, grace periods are standard on life insurance policies provided by Sun Life Financial.

While Loftus could not speak on the specifics of Tobin's case, but said a family in a similar situation just needs to file documentation showing their loved one died within the grace period to be covered.

About the Author

Ryan Cooke

Ryan Cooke works for CBC out of its bureau in St. John's.