Losing her husband of 41 years to cancer last year was difficult enough for Maria Khoury.

“It’s not easy for me,” Khoury told Global News, explaining the subsequent problems she faced with her auto insurance company.

After the death of Eiwas Khoury in June 2017, the Vaughan, Ont., woman and her son sold the family’s car, which was listed in her husband’s name. That was a straightforward and easy process, they said.

But cancelling the auto insurance policy on the car turned out to be nearly impossible.

“They kept taking the money for almost 16 months,” Khoury said, describing how Aviva Canada was still withdrawing monthly insurance payments even after being told the car was gone and Khoury’s husband was deceased. Khoury and her son send Aviva a copy of his death certificate, but the deductions persisted.

The payments added up to about $1,900 on a car Khoury didn’t own for services she didn’t receive on a policy she explicitly didn’t want.

With the help of a friend, Khoury and her son called on Aviva’s ombudsman to refund the money once the company eventually stopped the deductions. The ombudsman did not order a refund.

“They gave me a hard time,” she said.

Instead, Khoury said, the ombudsman’s office suggested she could retain a lawyer if she wanted to pursue a claim.

Khoury, who lives on a modest pension, said that was not an option for her and that the payment to Aviva was a hardship.

A friend called Global News seeking help.

Responding to emails, Aviva originally told Global News it could not discuss the case, citing privacy, even though Khoury had provided authorization to discuss the matter.

“On an ongoing basis, Aviva Canada works to raise awareness among our customers about their insurance choices. In difficult times like this, when a loved one dies, we make every effort to help their family understand what steps are required to take care of their affairs. The same is true in this case. Aviva is working side-by-side with her to sort this out as quickly as we can,” said Aviva spokesperson Fabrice de Dongo in an email.

Aviva is one of Canada’s largest general insurance companies.

Pressed about why the company persistently made deductions from Khoury’s bank account even after she cancelled, Aviva Canada responded by announcing it would give back the money.

“Aviva Canada is pleased to let you know that we have spoken with Mrs. Khoury to let her know that we will be processing a refund of the full amount of the premiums, plus any administrative charges she may have incurred, that have been paid since Mr. Khoury’s passing. That refund is being processed electronically today,” de Dongo wrote in a follow-up email.

The resolution took 24 hours. Khoury had fought unsuccessfully alone with Aviva for 16 months.

Khoury is grateful to be getting her money back and to have the battle behind her.

“Thank you very much. I appreciate it. If it was not for you, the money was gone.”

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