January 26, 2022

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Insurance policy puzzle

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Time is running out and frustration is building for the family of Taneka Gardner, the woman whose throat was slashed during a sacrificial ceremony at Pathways International Kingdom Restoration church last October as her insurance claim process drags on.

Septimus Gardner told The Gleaner that the family has been unable to get closure because his daughter is still yet to be buried.

Gardner said that the funeral home that has Taneka’s body has advised of a six-week deadline, after which the family will incur charges of $3,500 per day for storage.

“I believe it’s more than time fi she bury now,” said the family patriarch.

Gardner said that his daughter’s former workplace, ATL, with which the contract was drafted, has not offered clarity on the beneficiaries of the insurance policy. The family is crying foul at being left in the dark.

“They change things around and say the brother alone on the life insurance, and the mother and the brother on the pension insurance. The son on nothing,” said Gardner.

Gardner said that he had initially received conflicting information that Taneka’s brother was named as a pension beneficiary while the brother and Taneka’s mother were reportedly listed on the life insurance.

Taneka’s mother is reportedly ill and, therefore, another daughter, Shelana Gardner, is acting with power of attorney on her mother’s behalf.

The family said they cannot afford to employ the services of an attorney-at-law to act on their behalf.

The Gardners told The Gleaner that there has been no movement 10 weeks after Taneka’s tragic death.

Donna Cole, human resources manager at ATL, offered a terse response on Thursday to Gleaner queries.

“We acknowledge receipt of your email below and advise that we have no comments at this time,” Cole said.

Shelana Gardner said that she has run into a brick wall.

“The lady told me she can’t give me any information because it is too early. They will have to wait so ‘til the burial order come in and stuff, and they will have to call me. I did not receive a call from them until today,” Shelana said Wednesday of another ATL representative.

The family said all purported beneficiaries have come together and sought conference with ATL, to no avail.

They told The Gleaner they went to Guardian Life, the insurer, but were referred to ATL.

“Guardian Life says they are not to send me down there because it’s a company policy. ATL is the person who took out the policy, so they are the one who should give me the information,” Shelana said.

The Gardners say they are unaware of the precise value of the insurance policy.

Shelana said she saw documentation in 2019 that suggested that her sister attempted to make Pastor Kevin Smith a beneficiary. However, she has not seen anything official.

Smith, who is alleged to have conspired to have Taneka murdered, died in a motor vehicle crash a week after her demise.

“In 2017, 2018 I found a certificate and it has my brother’s name on it. I don’t find the copy of the 2019 certificate. Mrs [name redacted] told me that they did not get a printout of the certificate in 2020, 2021, so she don’t know how much is on the policy, and that cannot be possible,” Shelana said.

Andre Ruddock, an aide of Smith’s, is charged with the murder of Taneka Gardner.

Ruddock reportedly confessed to the police that he used a knife to cut Gardner’s throat on October 17.

Prosecutors theorise that he was instructed by Smith to carry out the act.

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