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Bolton widower battles to reclaim funeral plan money after wife died abroad

February 25, 2017 6:02 AM
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AN elderly widower has won a battle to reclaim thousands of pounds after money paid into a funeral plan could not be used for his wife’s service because she died abroad.

Hiralal Paul, from Bromley Cross, and his wife of 45 years Nilima, had been paying for two separate fixed monthly payment plans with Co-operative Funeralcare since 2008.

Mrs Paul, aged 71, died from heart failure on the morning of December 19 while the couple were on holiday in Kolkata, West Bengal.

As with Hindu tradition, Mrs Paul had to be cremated as soon as possible after her death, so a service was held later that day.

But after getting in touch with his family, Mr Paul was told that the Co-op could not pay out for the funeral as it had taken place abroad and the policy only covers services that occur in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Mr Paul said the process of getting the money back had been hard on him.

He said: “Half of me is gone, I’m completely changed. I’m not the same person I was.

“It’s all been too much for me to take. It feels like there’s nothing I can do, it was like I was knocking on heavy doors.”

Since he returned to Bolton last month, the 72-year-old has been attempting to close his account and get the money back, which he claims totals £4,415.48. Refunds usually aren’t given more than 30 days after purchasing the plan.

But after The Bolton News got in touch with Co-operative Funeralcare, the company said they would refund Mr Paul in full due to the “unique circumstances”.

A spokesman for Co-op Funeralcare said: “We would like to offer our condolences to Mr Hiralal Paul on the loss of his wife and apologise for the upset caused at this difficult time.

“Due to the very unique circumstances surrounding the death of Mr Hiralal Paul’s wife, we will be providing a full refund on the payments made.”

Mr Paul said he was pleased to have his money back but said he wanted to make sure it did not happen to anyone else.

He said: “I just don’t understand why it didn’t happen earlier. I have no dispute with the policy of not paying for funeral’s abroad. It’s just that the money does not belong to them.

Mr and Mrs Paul were married in an arranged marriage in India in 1971 before Mrs Paul flew out to live with her husband in Bromley Cross in 1974.

Mr Paul wished to thank both The Bolton News and Co-operative Funeralcare for helping to get the money back.


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Comments - 10

February 25, 2017 6:08 AM

Dad was a collier from Westhoughton and when mum asked him were the money would come from he would always repay, "Has tha ever sin anybody left on top." That sums it up.


February 25, 2017 6:08 AM

He didn't get the full sum, just the payments he had made. The Co-op Funeral arm are losing their integrity more and more. They need to put in bold that Funerals will only be paid if in the UK. There must be loads of others who may pass away overseas. Terrible sales gimmick!

Alison Heap

February 25, 2017 6:06 AM

So glad Mr Paul received his money back. Refused to pay some funds back when mum stopped paying... always same excuse about the small print

Blackrod Chrome1

February 25, 2017 6:05 AM

My parents paid for theirs to make sure it wasn't a burden to me and done their way - dads was straight to crem "spend money on a wake not church" in instructions, mums was Anglican with her favourite hymns. I had little to do and as only child with no experience I was greatful. It also meant mums care home fees couldn't access that money she'd already put in - worked all life and money in will was £0 after took savings and home. I couldnt afford the funeral she wanted if she didn't have foresight. This is only reason I'm considering one - funerals are a rip off targeting the vulnerable

Chrome1 Blackrod

February 25, 2017 6:05 AM

Good on you to be pragmatic. Sorry to hear of your loss and it is a very sad time when we lose someone close. The funeral industry (akin to Insurance) prey on your fears and vulnerability. Have common sense with you.


February 25, 2017 6:05 AM

I still don't get this practice of paying a funeral home to bury the dead. No matter what you do it doesn't make a jot of difference to the deceased. As long as the burial is dignified. The tradition of wearing black, the pomp and ceremony are all Victorian inventions. It costs a lot of money; money that can be spent on the living.

Cherry Crush

February 25, 2017 6:04 AM

Be stood on your head then, give your feet a rest. :-0


February 25, 2017 6:03 AM

It is upsetting and having the refund is a kind gesture given it's in the paperwork. I have friends whose family will not pay into plans due to potential of this happening. I all asked for refunds in this situation the companies would increase all plans (again) or go bust in some areas. RIP


February 25, 2017 6:02 AM

Chrome 1 I wish I had your mindset, unfortunately dying scares the bejesus out of me. I have just paid up for a pre-paid burial, I want and requested all the pomp / black clothes as you put it. And your correct - it cost me a lot of cash I could have gone to Venice with.

Bob Bizarre

February 25, 2017 6:02 AM

He's called patel not Paul ? He only going his money back because the co-op funeral place didn't want to offend him because of his culture.