HOPE has been expressed that a death insurance payment may be reinstated after members of Gurranabraher Credit Union instructed its board of management to negotiate with insurance companies immediately.
At the credit union’s AGM this week, councillor Thomas Gould had a motion passed asking management to examine reintroducing a grant covering funeral expenses which ended on November 30.
Mr Gould has also called for a compassionate grant to be put in place to cover members who have passed away since the cut off date. He told The Echo he is aware of a number of families that have been affected by this.
Customers who had bought into the death grant scheme have not been covered since December 1 for €3,250 worth of funeral costs after the insurance scheme failed to reach a 50% member sign-up minimum.
Members were informed in October that new Central Bank rules stipulate that at least half of members must pay a premium to avail of the Death Grant Scheme in order for the service to be continued to be offered.
However, not enough of the credit union’s 13,500 membership responded, meaning the scheme closed.
Previously, members who paid a €20 premium per annum would receive €4,000 towards the cost of their funeral if they died within a year. Adjustments to the scheme saw the figure paid out reduced and the annual premium paid by members rise to €30.
It was claimed at the AGM that not enough was done to notify members and there should have been an extraordinary AGM called due to the significance of the issue.
Mr Gould said: “The board of management have now been instructed by members to go back out to the market and deal with insurance companies to negotiate a new death benefit grant for members.
“There have been a number of members that have passed away since the first of December and their families do not get a penny.
“I have asked the board to examine the possibility of putting a compassionate grant in place for people who are not covered until a new death grant is feasible.
“At least 20 people spoke on the issue and many are disgusted at the loss of the death grant and they are very upset.
“Establishing a new death grant and bringing a package to members may take some time and in the meantime, I have asked the board of management to bring in a compassionate grant for members,” Mr Gould added.
The service is not offered by all credit unions and is not under the control of the Irish League of Credit Unions — meaning individual credit unions can decide whether to offer the scheme or not.
A motion to rename the credit union to Ascent Credit Union at the AGM was voted down because members felt the brand of Gurranabraher Credit Union was well established.