Family of gay officer who died of COVID-19 denied insurance benefits

Via Local10 News

The family Shannon Bennett, the gay Broward Sheriff’s deputy who died from COVID-19 in April, has been denied insurance benefits covering his death.

Insurance giant AIG denied the family’s claim for accidental death in the line of duty last month. Bennett became the first officer to die in Broward County of the coronavirus. According to AIG, Bennett’s death didn’t occur in the line of duty; “rather, his death was caused in whole or in part by, or resulted in whole or in part from sickness or disease, specifically excluded under this policy.”

“Essentially, while my family is grappling with trying to get our bearings back, this type of letter comes in and of course it floors us,” Darren Bennett, Shannon’s brother, told Local 10 News. Bennett was due to wed his fiance in December.

Related: This police chief linked colleague’s covid death to being gay; now he’s looking for a new job

The Broward County Sherrif’s Office joined the family in protesting the claim denial, as the office believes Bennett contracted COVID-19 while on duty. The BSO also sent an appeal on behalf of the family, which was also denied. AIG acknowledged that Bennett did likely contract the virus while in the line of duty, but held to the decision not to honor his benefits.

“One of the most difficult tragedies to endure in this profession is a line of duty death,” Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony said in a statement. “We are committed to helping the Bennett family. We pay thousands of dollars each year for this insurance, and I’m extremely disappointed that AIG is denying this claim. We will exhaust all appeals. I have directed my command staff to review our contract with AIG. We hope as we have further dialogue with AIG, they recognize the global impact in [the] message that they are sending to our first responders.”

The war over Bennett’s insurance benefits is just the latest in a series of bizarre scandals surrounding his death and the Broward Sheriff’s office. Earlier this week, Queerty reported that Dale Engle, a former colleague of Bennett’s, lost his job after blaming Bennett’s death on his homosexuality.