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problems with french death certificate


britgirl

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I know this is a difficult subject, but I think it is an important one, as many people may be unaware that the cause of death is not disclosed on the certificate.

My husband had a tumour removed from his kidney 11/06/2007 and sadly it was found to be not only cancerous, but also very aggressive, and he died some 20 weeks later 29/10/2007 aged 55 and I was 53.

The U.K. government have not questioned the death, and I am in receipt of widow's bereavement allowance until 28/10/2008.

His former employers (he was a policeman)  have not queried this and I am recieving a reduced pension.

Other organisations have also accepted the certificate and have no problems with dealing with any monies that may be due to me.

I am having problems with a 'neutral' european insurance company who, unless I can convince them otherwise, are insisting that I return to the hospital where he died and obtain a hand written, authenticated letter  giving cause of death. This means that once again I am having to ask friends for  help (and it is freely given) in a very distressing situation. It will open many painful memories for them and me.  The same company has also asked for the names and addresses of 2 non family members who attended the cremation. I understand that this company are well known for this way of dealing with  claims.

For me, at the moment, I am not dependant on the money, but for some people it could have a huge impact. It's hard enough losing your husband, without having to deal with the insensitivity of a large internatioal company. It would appear that I should have asked for the letter giving cause of death when he died.!!

Maybe it would be an idea for the forum administraters to have a section dealing with bereavement. I have freely given all the information I have learnt to friends etc, but France is a huge place. Whilst there may be small differences from one department to another, I would be willing to share our experience, if it would help someone else.

Don't be sad for me. We were so lucky that we were able to realise our dream, even if it was for a short time. Not many people are able to say that.

 

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Britgirl, my deepest sympathy and thank you for telling us of your experience, and forewarning us.  Some notes on bereavement, the process of registering a death in France and the subsequent probate procedures would be very helpful.  It may seem a distasteful subject but it will happen to all of us one day and far better to know in advance what to expect and how to deal with it. 

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[quote user="nectarine"]Some notes on bereavement, the process of registering a death in France and the subsequent probate procedures would be very helpful.  It may seem a distasteful subject but it will happen to all of us one day and far better to know in advance what to expect and how to deal with it.  [/quote]

I have been putting something together and I would still appreciate any input about the matter in general and about repatriation specifically.

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I've never heard so much rubbish from an insurance company in my life.  I've been through this for another party and the result was that the company, under a European convention (can't remember which one it is) cannot now refuse an EU country's death certificate and you don't have to provide certified copies now either.

That's why there's no need now to get a death certificate from a British Consulate.  Once the death is registered, it's a matter of public recognition and that is all there is to it!!!

I would suggest that you ask the company if they would want the same additional information if a person dies in the UK, assuming that's where the insurance policy was taken out.  If they say that they don't, threaten them with legal action because what they're doing is clearly illegal - they HAVE to accept a death certificate issued in France now, it's a matter of law.

And of course condolences, ok, I wont feel sorry for you because you did acheive your dream but after 30 odd years in the job, a long and happy retirement would have been the icing on the cake with somebody you care for.

Clair, deepest apologies, I recall offering to help you with this death stuff - can you send me what you have in a pm/email and I'll see what I can do to put the rest of the information together for you.

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Isn't there, though, a technicality that some insurance policies will not pay out if the cause of death is suicide?  So perhaps the insurance company wants to know the exact cause of death in order to discount this and to validate Britgirl's claim to an insurance payout.

Also ... and slightly off subject .... might some of this bureaucracy also be more rigorously enforced because of the current case in the news, where someone faked his death so his wife could claim the dosh, meanwhile he was hiding next door!

Sorry if this is painful, Britgirl, but I guess the insurance company will have its reason to insist on knowing the cause of death in case there is some clause in the policy affecting this.

Good luck anyway. 

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[quote user="Clair"][quote user="nectarine"]Some notes on bereavement, the process of registering a death in France and the subsequent probate procedures would be very helpful.  It may seem a distasteful subject but it will happen to all of us one day and far better to know in advance what to expect and how to deal with it.  [/quote]
I have been putting something together and I would still appreciate any input about the matter in general and about repatriation specifically.
[/quote]

Clair

Not a distasetful subject at all - just part of life....my husband died suddently and without warning just 12 weeks ago, if some notes, as you descibe had been available it would have/be most helpful. I have done various seraches on the internet for such help, just a simple list of what to do, what to expect and as Britgirl says it was a shock not to have any details of the cause of death, we still dont know, the GP shrugged his shoulders and said it was "probably" a heart attack. Interenet seraches only seem to bring up details on what to do if there is a death abroad such as whilst on holiday.

I am in a very dark place at the moment but if you Clair would like any assistance with putting together some info I would be happy to help via PM.

Stephanie

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Just off topic slightly but

 

For advice and help in what to do,what the proceedures are etc the British Consul is the place to go or telephone(presuming you are British)

They will assist in contacting relatives, give advice on proceedures,etc etc There is no charge for this service. .

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Thank you all for your comments.

I am well aware that there has been a lot in the press recently regarding a faked death, and am not offended by this being raised. It would be a natural question to ask and indeed another insurance  company did ask for cause of death, and accepted our word.

The problem is that I  ( my son actually)  am dealing with a Swiss based company, and they are not part of the E.U. These policies were originally taken out in the 1970/80's and I am sure they were then a British based company.

My son is awaiting a phone call from the company to see if in this case they will finalise things without me having to obtain further evidence.

I'm not even sure whether the hospital would give me these details anyway.

I'll keep you updated, and hope that common sense prevails.

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Sorry Britgirl but it doesn't matter where the company is based (ie, where it's head office is) it's where it did the transaction - in the Uk - that applies here and if they sold the policy in the Uk and it was paid in the UK, you shouldn't be fobbed off with that one, Swiss regs are usually compatible with Euro laws on this.

You're right, French death certificates do not have a cause of death, nor are intrusive post mortems carried out as a matter of course, only where violence is suspected.  And, to complicate matters, an individual's medical records are sealed immediately the death is registered and they are then, generally, not available to anybody, including members of the family.  I went through all this a couple of years ago when I registered 4 sudden deaths in my commune so speak from experience of dealing with the whole thing from beginning to end - whenever the end happens, still waiting for the UK inquest to be called and the French judicial hearings to take place.

It's unlikely that the hospital will give you a letter - I'd speak to the UK's Insurance Ombudsman about this immediately, get some advice from that office up front and then go back to the UK office of the company concerned.  If also ask the Police Federation if they can give you any help with this, tho your husband was retired I know they gave my chum help in France when he was involved in the fatal accident in which the 4 people died.

 

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First let me say, Britgirl, how very sorry I am about your loss.  I lost my OH six years ago and it is still painful.  Having said that, our insuurance situations are quite similar - Swiss company requiring written cause of death (it was an accident) and asking for declarations from the pompiers who came out along with the SAMU. In the end they accepted a written attestation from my GP clearly indicating that it was an accidental fall which resulted in his death.  It took a while but after six months they did release the money and I'm sure your situation will be resolved. 
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You will see Britgirl the strength of feeling on this one and a dream for however long is a dream and a dream to cherish.  But you also are a brick that is what we say in Wales when someone demonstrates a lot of courage.

I am in the law and I am with Tony on this one.  Forget that the company is Swiss it is where the contract for life assurance was written that is important.  If it was in the UK then fine although they can sometimes insert a clause to the effect that it is subject to the laws of Switzerland etc etc.  However I doubt it here it is simply a matter of the UK company either being taken over or amalgamated.

Your son is obviously working on this for you but if he would or you indeed like to pm me (if you feel I can help) then I will do all that I can.

If you are getting nowhere with the organisation and despite being in Switzerland it must still have a complaints procedure its common practice today and you have to prove to the Ombudsman that you have used it before he will help.

You can also subject to certain financial limits issue proceedings to start things going via the on line system in the County Court but here I would think that the figures are outside the current limits but one does not know and obviously matters such as that are entirely private.  But now is the time to start sending letters and if you do just make sure that in the print that your son tells them that you and he are treating the letter as an open letter.  That means it can be used in court. If you start using (before they do) without prejudice and the like then it cannot be used.

Keep at them.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Thank you all for the help and advice.

The good news is that without having to use 'strong arm 'tactics the Insurance company have , in my 'particular circumstances', agrred to pay up without a medical cause of death. This was due to the fact that the policies had been in place since the early 1980's and that a large amount was not involved. (what is large?)

The main reason for posting was to make people aware of the problem, and what was the best way of dealing with it. I know I'm not the only one who has encountered this situation, but if I can make things any easier for anyone else then maybe Jeff didn't die in vain. As someone once said we have been forced to become members of a club we never wanted to join.

 Best wishes

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  • 3 weeks later...

This has been such a useful thread - I thought you might like to know that I too have now been asked to allow the insurance company in the UK to access my deceased husbands medical records, apprently this is ALWAYS done by this particular insurance company if the insured dies abroad and where no cause of death is recorded on the medical certificate. It would appear that natural causes is insuffcient information. I simply cannot understand what further information could be of use to them, and obvioulsy is prolonging the the claim process which at this time I could do without.

I was interested in the information posted by Tony on this not being "allowed" under a European Convention Directive - does anyone have any further informaion on this, I have done a google search but couldnt find anything.

Thanks

Steff

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One reason the insurance companies will require the specific details as to the natural cause of death, is to ascertain if it could relate to a pre-existing medical condition that existed at the time the policy was taken out. If it does and the pre-existing medical condition, such as high blood pressure, was not fully disclosed when the the life assurance cover was obtained, there is a high risk the the policy will be void.

The insurance companies are red hot on this and that is why it is so important when taking out life or critical illness insurance you fully disclose any and all existing and previous medical conditions, even if you do not think they are relavent.

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  • 3 weeks later...
I think the problem exists:

(1) Non French Assurance do not understand the continental way.

(2) French Birth Certificates follow you through Life, as an example, when a French citizen  gets Married, the details of the Wedding is entered normally in Red on the  Birth certificate, divorce and death are also added.

Therefore if you are doing any tracing of French relations, you contact the Town hall of their birth and they will issue a birth certificate, which will be endorsed with their life history.

Copies of French Birth Certificates are free because if Agencies want one ( CAF, CPAM, CRAM etc) they will normally stipulate under 3 months old

Incidently the Town hall should be able to give you a copy of the Doctors certification as this is what allows them to add to the deceased Birth Certificate.

If they are a International Company, their Paris Head Office should be able to offer assistance.

.

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