When Kim Garbutt’s estranged husband Craig died in 2008, AMP sent her a cheque for $25.
His family were expecting to receive a payout of more than $208,000 in death benefits from his AMP superannuation fund, but less than two weeks after his death Kim received a cheque for just $25.09 leaving her “dumbfounded”.
On ABC’s 7.30, Kim said AMP told her Craig’s account had run dry.
Speaking to journalist Anthony Klan, she told of how she discovered that five months before Craig’s death, the account was $212 in arrears and AMP cancelled his policy.
Craig, the father of Kim’s two children, suffered from severe alcoholism and died aged 39.
Kim said he was a smart, funny, well-loved man who had sought help and entered a rehab centre, but ultimately had been unable to beat his addiction.
“We were living on gifts,” she said. “Craig’s business was bankrupt, he was in debt to what we think is $300,000 to $400,000 to maybe six or seven creditors. Our phones had been cut off.”
Craig had been living in his car and staying on friends’ couches before his death.
Kim’s investigations found Craig had rolled over $1,621.93 into the AMP super account from his former fund in 2003. Within five weeks, that balance had dropped to $1,433.77 after the account was charged $188.16 in fees and insurance premiums.
Craig continued to pay monthly death benefit premiums, but did not contribute anything more to the account after his initial $1,621.93 contribution.
These premiums rose significantly, including a jump of twice the rate of inflation in a single year.
7.30 reports that AMP continued to deduct fees and charges from the account, and while some were itemised, many were hidden.
AMP later told Kim they had warned Craig in a letter that the fund was nearly empty and would be cancelled. They then told her there was nothing more they could do.
Kim told 7.30 AMP had refused to engage with her on compassionate grounds and she has been battling AMP for details about Craig's superannuation and insurance policies, unsuccessfully, since his death.
She said that the letter AMP had written Craig before his death did not reach him as he was seriously ill with no fixed address. He had not been opening mail.
In the years since Craig's death, ABC report Kim has got nowhere with AMP as they insist they informed Craig of the policies impending cancellation.
"We have never been able to get a full understanding of what he agreed to and they took no due diligence in looking at why the fees had been taken out," she said.
AMP "strongly rejects" any claim that Kim had not been kept informed.
"At no time were we informed that [Craig] was unwell, and we corresponded with him as early as seven months before his death that he was at risk of losing his valuable insurance," an AMP spokeswoman said.
Watch the full ABC 7.30 story here.