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Court awards insurance payment on dead couple found hiding

Court awards insurance payment on dead couple found hiding

Taipei, Oct. 24 (CNA) The Cathay Life Insurance Co., Ltd. on Thursday lost its lawsuit against three siblings to whom it had paid accidental death benefits of NT$64.82 million (US$2.21 million) after their parents disappeared in a car accident, as Taiwan's Supreme Court ruled against the company in the case of alleged insurance fraud. However, in a dramatic turn of events, news surfaced on the same day that the couple had fled to China and lived there under false identities until their cover was blown when the wife died earlier this year. The couple surnamed Hsu went missing after a car crash on July 29, 2001 on the Coastal Highway bound for Yilan during a typhoon. Their car was found the next day having tumbled down from the highway's 84 kilometer marker into a valley. The car's body was seriously damaged. The couple's three children, the beneficiaries of their life insurance policies, then sought court declaration for their death and demanded the insurance company pay their parents' accidental death benefits. The insurer paid them the death claims, but regretted its decision and later tried to recoup the amount. The company made an appeal to prosecutors as they suspected the couple might have fled to China, but the prosecutors decided not to pursue the case. The insurer cited data from the Central Weather Bureau and an eyewitness testimony as evidence that the weather conditions could not have caused the car to slam into the ravine. It also cited data showing that the couple's children had incurred heavy debts and were motivated to cheat the insurance company. However, the court ruled that the possibility of the couple's bodies disappearing into the ocean due to a car crash cannot be excluded and that the insurer should pay the three children NT$64.82 million in insurance claims. The company subsequently appealed against the decision to the Supreme Court, which upheld the lower court's ruling on Thursday. Local media, meanwhile, quoted law enforcement sources as saying that the couple and their three children may have staged the car accident to defraud the insurance company of the huge sum of money because the wife reportedly died of a heart attack in China in May, which led the Chinese police to discover their fake identities. Taiwan's police are seeking to repatriate the man back to Taiwan, the sources said. The insurance company could seek a retrial based on the Code of Civil Procedure if it secures new evidence, it was reported. (By Huang Yi-han, Liu Jian-bang and Y.L. Kao)


Updated : 2021-06-14 01:35 GMT+08:00