Teacher settles case with insurer over ending of disability benefits

A retired secondary school teacher who was followed by private detectives acting for Zurich Life Assurance has settled her High Court action over the insurer’s decision to cease paying her a disability allowance.

The action was taken by mother of three Bridget Daly, aged 48, of The Chase, Clonmel, Co Tipperary, who suffers from a condition known as ME or chronic fatigue syndrome and has been deemed medically unable to work by the Department of Education.

Ms Daly had, through her trade union, the ASTI, signed up to a salary protection scheme with Zurich. However, Zurich ceased paying her the benefits in April and informed her that her case was under review.

As a result, she sued Zurich and sought injunctions directing the insurer to pay her disability benefit under the salary protection scheme.

She had also claimed she and her children were “spied on” and placed under surveillance by a private investigator because she sued Zurich.

She also sought orders restraining the defendant and all persons who have knowledge of the order from carrying out any surveillance of her and her children, and that any images be handed over.

The application was opposed by Zurich.

The case returned before Mr Justice Paul Gilligan at the High Court yesterday when counsel for Ms Daly, Patrick Keane, said the proceedings had been resolved and the matter could be struck out.

Ms Daly’s application for the injunction due to be heard last week was adjourned to allow settlement talks to progress. No details of the settlement were given in open court.

When the matter was previously before the court, lawyers for Zurich said the insurer stopped the payment because it wanted her to undergo a test called a “functional capacity evaluation”.

It said it was entitled to stop the payment after she declined to take this test. Zurich had also argued Ms Daly had signed a clause in the policy allowing it to investigate claims.

Ms Daly’s lawyers argued she had been asked to take a test that had previously been found by the High Court as not being a medical diagnostic test. There were many independent medical reports to show Ms Daly cannot work and she has been retired by the Department of Education on health grounds, she claimed.

Ms Daly said that after she launched the claim over the refusal to pay her the allowance, she was followed while driving one of her children to school.

She also alleged she was photographed or filmed by a man while walking in a park on another occasion, and also saw a car drive past her home slowly.

Following a complaint, Zurich’s lawyers informed Ms Daly’s solicitors Burns Nowlan it would discontinue the surveillance. Ms Daly says the surveillance was “designed to intimidate me”.

Ms Daly, who said she had been upset and distressed by the events, said in a sworn statement the dispute should be determined through “medical evaluation” and “not by people spying on me and my family”.


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