A man with terminal cancer is spending his last weeks battling for life insurance so his wife and two young children can be comfortable after he dies.

Andrew Porteous, 34, was diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer in October last year. He had been made redundant in July 2016 after being a credit analyst for GE Money for 12 years - the company was bought by Latitude Financial Services.

Porteous' insurance with AMP came as part of his job and the policy had lapsed by the time he was diagnosed.

But barrister Sandra Grant, who is representing Porteous, argued that they had medical evidence that proved he had terminal cancer before his policy lapsed - he just didn't know it yet. This meant that AMP did have an obligation to fulfill Porteous' $450,000 life insurance policy, she claims.

Advertisement

"The policy covered him if he became terminally ill while employed. It covered him even if the diagnosis came later.

"He definitely would have been terminally ill before he left employment.

"AMP are going for a very restrictive interpretation saying that he had to be diagnosed by a medical expert as terminally ill [before the policy lapsed], and he had to leave employment as a consequence of being terminally ill.

"It's an interpretation issue."

The cancer in Porteous' stomach has now spread to his brain and his doctor estimated he has anything from a few weeks to a few months to live.

"It [my life expectancy] is a moving target. No one really knows, but the short answer is, not long," Porteous told the Herald.

"It's an unfortunate situation. It sucks."

Porteous said he didn't know the policy was lapsing and if he did he would have chosen to continue it. He hoped AMP would choose to settle out of court. They would use the money to cover mounting medical bills. Neither Porteous or his wife Emma were working.

Advertisement

The North Shore couple are both exhausted dealing with Porteous' illness, the legal battle and their two children, aged one and four.

"It's just a sideshow we really don't need," Porteous told the Herald.

"It's disappointing AMP have taken this position and are making it difficult, taking my time away from my wife and kids."

Andrew Porteous with his family. Porteous has terminal cancer and may only have weeks to live. Photo / Givealittle
Andrew Porteous with his family. Porteous has terminal cancer and may only have weeks to live. Photo / Givealittle

Grant said that Porteous wasn't properly informed about the end of the policy by his employer or an insurance broker.

As well as being made redundant and being diagnosed with terminal cancer in late 2016 Porteous welcomed his second child into the world and was about to start a new job so it was a busy time for the family, Grant explained.

Over 1600 people have signed a petition to get AMP to pay up and $220,000 has been raised for Porteous over two Givealittles.

The claim for life insurance will be filed on Porteous' behalf to the High Court early next year.

Litigation funder LPF Group is funding his legal fight at no fee and have employed Grant to represent Porteous.

An AMP spokesman said Porteous had never held a policy with AMP, instead his employer had a policy to cover its employees. He said the employer never advised AMP that Porteous was ill or made any claim during the period of his employment.

"Mr Porteous was diagnosed with cancer approximately three months after his employment ceased and because he had not taken up individual cover he had no policy to claim against.

"We have sought for many months to get a proper account from Mr Porteous and his employer as to the circumstances as to why he elected not to take up cover, but to date we have not been able to gather these facts.

"AMP is sympathetic to Mr Porteous' situation but remains of the view that the employer's policy coverage had lapsed and that the arguments being advanced by his lawyers regarding essentially 'retrospective' cover are inappropriate."

The spokesman urged others who were made redundant or leaving their employer to always consider continuing their insurance to avoid "significant financial risk".