Case Number: DEC-S2012-007- Full Case Report. Equality Tribunal

Docket NumberDEC-S2012-007- Full Case Report
Date01 February 2012
CourtEquality Tribunal
The Equality Tribunal

Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2011

Decision Number


Complainant A and Complainant B
through their next friend and father


Caledonian Life
(Represented by Eugene F. Collins Solicitors)

Case refs: ES/2011/0010 and 0011 Issued: 20 February 2012

Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2008- Disability- Failure to Provide Reasonable Accommodation - Provision of good and services - Prima Facie case

1. Delegation under the Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2008

1.1. Complainant A and Complainant B (hereafter "the complainants") referred a claim through their next-friend and father to the Director of the Equality Tribunal under the Equal Status Acts on 24 January 2011. The respondent was notified of this complaint in accordance with the Acts on 10 September 2010. The Director exercising his powers under the Acts then delegated the case to me, Tara Coogan, an Equality Officer, for investigation, hearing and decision and for the exercise of other relevant functions of the Director under part III of the Equal Status Acts on 17 November 2011. An oral hearing, as part of the investigation was held in Dublin on 1 February 2011.

2. Dispute

2.1. The dispute concerns complaints of unlawful discrimination on the disability ground. The complainants submitted that Caledonian Life ("the respondent") discriminated against them, including a failure to provide the complainants with reasonable accommodation, on the disability ground by not providing Life Assurance cover to the complainants from November 2008 to 27 July 2010 and by refusing to accept any further applications for Life Assurance for the complainants.

3. Case for the complainants

3.1. The complainants are twin brothers aged over 21 years. Both Complainant A and Complainant B were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder when they were about 2 and half years of age. The complainants' application for life assurance, submitted on their behalf by their mother, was refused because of the complainants' medical condition.

3.2. The complainants' next friend had only found out about the refusal to grant the insurance through a third party. The broker that the complainants' wife had dealt with initially had omitted to inform the complainants' parents that the respondent had refused to grant insurance cover to either complainant.

3.3. It was submitted that the respondent omitted to provide reasonable accommodation by not seeking more updated information about the complainants. It was submitted that complainant A and B were seen as the same people despite the fact that they are two distinct human beings. The respondent made assumptions about the complainants and their capacity to enter into a contract.

3.4. It was submitted that the complainants have been able to open bank accounts, get passports, medical cards, social welfare payments, sky television, etc. Also, the complainants' grandmother was able to take out policies for the complainants when they were 3 years of age and there was no need for the complainants then to enter into a contract.

3.5. The complainants refute the medical evidence used to justify the refusal to grant life cover to persons with autism.

4. Case for the respondent

4.1. The respondent is a provider of insurance. The complainants had sought to avail of convertible term assurance. In the event of the death of such policyholder the sum assured will be paid to a beneficiary. Convertible term assurance provides life cover at a fixed rate of payments for a fixed period of time (term). The policy holder has a "conversion option", which he or she can exercise at any time during the term of the policy.

4.2. It was submitted that an application for Convertible Life Assurance for both Complainant A and Complainant B was received by the respondent on or about 17 November 2008. The application forms were signed by the complainants' mother. The respondent sought private medical reports to assess the complainants' disclosed medical condition. On receipt of this, the respondent came to the conclusion that the disclosed condition would be classified as severe. The respondent wrote to the complainants' parents informing them that it was unable to provide life assurance for the complainants.

4.3. On 19 June 2009 the complainants' next friend submitted a complaint to the respondent. The matter was revisited by the respondent but the decision to refuse to provide cover was upheld. It was submitted that the respondent had referred the matter to its Reassurer who had also refused to...

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