Most read story: Man denied insurance cover over honest mistake - 'It's not fair, it's rubbish'

Note: This story was first published on Monday May 21

Shane has been denied income cover by insurance company because he failed to tell them of a condition unrelated to a rare nerve disorder that's kept him off work. Source: Fair Go

Shane Laker was diagnosed four years ago with a rare nerve disorder, trigeminal neuralgia, which causes him severe pain in his head, neck and right arm.

Shane’s been unable to work, he’s had to sell his share of his flooring business and he’s selling his family home.

He claimed on his income protection insurance with Partners Life, but they voided his insurance entirely because he had failed to disclose three unrelated conditions on his insurance application form.

The insurers said a combination of undisclosed sleep apnoea, high blood pressure and high cholesterol readings, meant Shane would not have been accepted for insurance in the first place.

Shane’s insurance form was 32-pages long and required a huge amount of current - and historical - medical information,  but it did not require either Shane or Partners Life to verify that information prior to sign up.

After Shane made his claim, Partners Life accessed all his medical records and found the undisclosed information.

Partners Life say they cannot allow clients to get payouts they would not have been entitled to had they made disclosure, and cannot accept “I forgot” or “I didn’t think it was important” as reasons for non-disclosure.

They say their applications are easy to understand, and they ask for health information that any client should know. Partners Life's decision to deny Shane’s claim was supported on review by the Insurance Ombudsman as being both reasonable and in-line with prudent underwriting practice.

Shane wants to see a law change so that innocent or mistaken non-disclosure like his case, is not cause for voiding insurance, and he wants the insurer to have to access and assess medical records prior to sign-up.  

Change may be underway though.

Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi has now asked for public submissions on an insurance law review which will include the non-disclosure issue, and other issues like unfair contract terms and insurers’ conduct.

More information on the insurance law review can be found here.

South Auckland charity The Aunties takes home top Women of Influence Award

The founder of a South Auckland charity group dubbed The Aunties has won the top honour at the Women of Influence Awards.

Jackie Clark set up the not-for-profit organisation six years ago to help vulnerable women and children who've experienced domestic violence.

The group's primary aim is to provide material needs to those they support.

"The Aunties believe everyone has the right to be safe, to have shelter, to be fed, to be loved, to dream, to read, to write, to have their say, and to be heard," the group proclaims on its Givealittle page. "Where any of those things are missing, the Aunties mission is to help provide them - the practical things, and also in terms of advocacy and pastoral care."

The group says it believes in manaakitanga - protecting the mana of the people they help so that they can find their way towards living independently, and with dignity and joy.

"Jackie and her fellow Aunties give without seeking anything in return and without judgement," said Westpac NZ chief executive David McLean, whose company co-sponsors the Women of Influence Awards. "She, and her core of other Aunties, ask vulnerable women what they need and then set about making it happen, in a completely selfless way.

"They have made an enormous contribution to our local communities at grassroots level."

The award ceremony was held last night at SkyCity in Auckland.

Here's the full list of winners:
Supreme Winner: Jackie Clark
Lifetime Achievement: Theresa Gattung
Arts and Culture: Miranda Harcourt
Board and Management: Dr Farah Palmer
Business and Enterprise: Angie Judge
Rural: Rebecca Keoghan
Public Policy: Charlotte Korte
Community/Not for Profit: Jackie Clark
Innovation and Science: Professor Wendy Larner
Diversity: Sarah Lang
Global: Sarah Vrede
Young Leader: Maddison McQueen-Davies

Jackie Clark set up the non-for-profit six years ago, which aims to help vulnerable women and children who have experienced domestic violence. Source: Breakfast



Eleven Glenorchy homes still without power 48 hours after early spring snowfall

Some resident in Central Otago's Glenorchy are still without power 48 hours after a spring snowfall caused major disruptions in the deep south.

Eleven properties remains with power this morning.

Aurora Energy is hoping to have power restored to the area by this evening.

Around 360 households in the central Otago town are affected, with Aurora Energy hoping to have electricity back on by this evening. Source: Breakfast

In many places power was cut, schools were closed and flights cancelled. Source: 1 NEWS


Watch: Artist uses pyramid in central Auckland to spread some joy around town

A Kiwi artist are architect is using a pyramid in central Auckland to spread some joy.

Matt Liggins has made it his mission to ask people what makes them smile, but instead of rolling up to you on the street he's built a pyramid to help lighten people's moods.

TVNZ1's Seven Sharp's Lucas de Jong went along to take a look and share a laugh in the video above.

Matt Liggins has made it his mission to ask Kiwis what makes them smile. Source: Seven Sharp

Meet the transgender Wellington school caretaker brightening up kids' days

A transgender caretaker at a Wellington school has been using her musical talents to brighten up the kids' days.

Molly Mason was born as Michael, but soon discovered she was a female born in a man's body.

"I believe I'm a woman, and I associate as a woman, so I live my life as a woman," Molly told TVNZ1's Seven Sharp.

Molly has a love of music that began when she was just six.

Now, in her role as caretaker at a Wellington school, she uses her talent to good effect by beat boxing with the kids at lunchtime.

"When I realised that beat boxing and making sounds was something I couldn't live without, that was it, nothing else mattered."

However, to be this woman - that little boy Michael, had a fight on his hands.

"I got bullied from primary school right through until the day I left college and left Blenheim."

Molly is now proud to be transgender and says the stage is her safe place. She performs as her drag alter ego called Bette Noir.

"Anything that makes me sad, makes me worried, makes me scared, anything that I find stressful, it's not there, it's gone." 

Seven Sharp’s Arrun Soma spoke with Molly Mason. Source: Seven Sharp