The family of Shannon Bennett, a gay Broward Sheriff’s deputy who died from COVID-19, was recently dealt another blow when insurance giant AIG denied their claim for accidental death in the line of duty.
“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.
In an email to SFGN, Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony said they continue to advocate for Bennett and noted that his family has received other benefits they were entitled to.
“Deputy Bennett's death was also covered under a death benefit payout that was provided within our group health insurance contract as well as a benefit for life insurance offered through the Broward Sheriff’s Office,” Tony said. “Since the separate line of duty payout was denied by AIG, BSO has been working diligently to ensure Deputy Shannon Bennett’s family receives all benefits they are entitled to. Once we have this issue resolved, those details will be released.”
Bennett had been a school resource officer at Deerfield Beach Elementary School since January 2019. He died on April 3 and was 39. Bennett, a gay man, was to wed his partner in December.
Immediately after Bennett died the Broward Sheriff’s Advisory Council stepped in to raise funds for Bennett’s family. They launched the “COVID-19 Fund” in memory of Bennett, to support the families of Broward County first responders, who die from the coronavirus.
The BSAC is a nonprofit membership organization that raises funds to support first responders, and has been giving money to families of fallen officers, who have died in the line of duty, since 1985. As long as their agency says they died in the line of duty the families of first responders are eligible for the “COVID-19 Fund.”
BSAC Executive Director Nancy Vaniman said they’ve raised $14,725 through the fund and has “supported three different families for substantially more than was raised.”
“Funds were issued to the family within two days of his death and other funds have been set aside to pay for the memorial service that the family said they would like to have after social distancing measures have relaxed,” Vaniman said.
AIG declined to comment to Local 10.
Tony told Local 10: “One of the most difficult tragedies to endure in this profession is a line of duty death. 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.”