'Justice has been served, now we can grieve': Widow Denise Ganas on Momentum u-turn

21 November 2018 - 08:39 By Iavan Pijoos
Denise Ganas mounted a successful media campaign to claim a life policy after her husband was gunned down in their driveway in March last year.
Denise Ganas mounted a successful media campaign to claim a life policy after her husband was gunned down in their driveway in March last year.

The widow of the man who was at the centre of the Momentum debacle says her family can finally move on after the insurance giant agreed to pay the life policy claim.

"We didn't have time to grieve as a family and now that this part is over, my family can finally start the grieving process and move forward," Denise Ganas told TimesLIVE on Wednesday morning.

The insurance company initially refused to pay out the R2.4m life cover claim.

Nathan Ganas was shot dead in a hijacking outside his Durban home in March last year. However, the company said that Ganas had not disclosed his high blood-sugar levels at the time of signing the contract in 2014 and his contract was therefore void.

After his widow contested the company's decision, Momentum said it would refund all of the premiums Ganas had paid and would retract its demand for the return of the R50,000 it had paid Denise to cover funeral expenses.

With public outrage mounting, and many clients taking to social media to say they wanted to cancel their policies, the company did an about-turn on Tuesday afternoon.

Momentum said it was "providing a solution for the victims of violent crime". It added that it had since reviewed its policies.

"It is clear from market reaction over the last two days that under certain circumstances, current industry practice creates the impression that insurers are looking for reasons not to pay a claim. Momentum is in the business of paying claims and we have therefore taken the criticism to heart," it said.

"We have created a solution that will pay an amount equal to the death benefit (limited to a maximum of R3m) in the case of violent crime, regardless of previous medical history. This will apply to all existing as well as future life cover clients," the company said. 

"The payout is not in addition to the normal death benefit. It only applies in circumstances when the death benefit will not be payable or has been reduced."

Momentum said it would also identify clients who were affected by this policy in the past, contact their families and arrange payment.

Ganas said she was still in shock and extremely overwhelmed. She said she was expecting a Momentum staffer to contact her on Wednesday. She said the monthly premiums for the policy amounted to R2,653.

My family can finally start the grieving process
Denise Ganas

"We haven't seen anything on black and white yet, but I believe justice has been served. I told myself I am pushing and not giving up."

She said she was grateful for all the support received from social media and the country.

"If it wasn't for their support, encouragement, fighting for me on my behalf, and going viral like that, I don't think I would have done it. It was truly overwhelming."

Joyful reactions from South Africans to the Momentum decision are flooding social media on Wednesday.

"Wonderful news. Momentum, it was the right thing to do. Now we can only hope and pray that other insurers have the same integrity," Barbara Munro said on Facebook.

Satish Bugwandin commented: "And we all did it! Momentum is paying out the claim and all other violent death claims irrespective of medical history! Well done South Africa. We all did this."

It was a sentiment shared by Kyle Gordon, who posted: "When South Africans rally together, we can make good things happen."

Weedaad Salie thought of the tragedy that befell the Ganas family: "So pleased for this widow and her family. Just a pity that she has had to fight for so long instead of being given the time to grieve. Nothing would ever be the same for the family, but at least now they have one less thing to worry about. May justice prevail in finding the people responsible for her husband's tragic death."