100-year-old Sears retiree gets life insurance restored

Paul Legood has received some good news about his 100-year-old mother’s life insurance policy, which was cancelled because of Sears Canada's financial troubles.

Days after Lisa Okill turned 100, her family was notified her health benefits and life insurance would be axed

Lisa Okill retired in 1982 after more than two decades of managing Sears locations in Ontario. Just days after her 100th birthday, she lost her health benefits and life insurance. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

A week after reaching out to CBC News with his story, Paul Legood has received some good news about his 100-year-old mother Lisa Okill, who worked for Sears for years then lost her insurance and health benefits because of the retailer's financial troubles.

Legood found out his mother's life insurance policy and health benefits were being axed on Sept. 30, just days after she celebrated her 100th birthday.

The news shocked Legood, whose mother worked 26 years for Sears Canada and was one of the company's first female managers.

Since telling his story to CBC News, Legood said representatives from Sun Life Financial, which manages the Sears group life plan, reached out to him. On Friday, Legood said he was able to reach a successful agreement for his mother, who lives in a Moncton nursing home.

Okill's son Paul Legood says the new life insurance plan will help cover her final wishes. But Okill's health plan is still gone and her pension remains at risk. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

"Basically, what they said is 'We have created a custom Sun Life alternative solution,'" said Legood.

Now the company is offering the face value of permanent life insurance coverage at no further cost and without the need to provide health information.

Having a solution for his mother's life insurance is a relief said Legood.

"It allows us to complete my mother's wishes on her passing."

Health benefits still gone

Okill's life insurance woes may be sorted out, but Legood said her health benefits are still gone. Instead he was told to make an application for his mother for the New Brunswick Drug Plan.

"The coverage is only 70 percent versus 100 percent," said Legood, "but 70 Percent is better than nothing, right?"

Also in peril for Okill, as for thousands of Sears Canada retirees, is her pension.

"We've been notified the pension will likely be reduced because the pension fund is underfunded" said Legood. Exactly how much it will be affected isn't known, he said.

Deadline for insurance

While Legood is satisfied with the result for his mother, he remains concerned about other seniors in similar situations.

Legood said the Sun Life representative he spoke with said people can apply for a graduated alternative plan.

But Legood said he was told anyone who wants to apply for the change

has to do so by Oct. 31. "They may fall through the cracks" he said.

About the Author

Matthew Bingley


Matthew Bingley is a CBC reporter based in Saint John.