(NEW YORK) — Gary Giordano, who was a suspect in his travel companion Robyn Gardner’s disappearance in August, has sued to collect on an insurance policy he took out on the woman.
Giordano, 51, filed the lawsuit last week against American Express for $3.5 million for failing to pay him the death benefit he says he deserves after Gardner, 35, presumably died after her Aug. 2 disappearance. Gardner’s body has not been found.
Giordano says the accidental death policy was part of his regular travel insurance that not only gave him coverage, but covered his traveling partners as well. Gardner’s policy is worth $1.5 million.
“When somebody takes out a policy and there is no body, they are required to wait 365 days before making a claim,” American Express told ABC News.
That means Giordano won’t be eligible to collect until August, a year from the date Gardner vanished.
Giordano tried to collect on the insurance policy two days after he notified authorities about Gardner’s disappearance. He explained his rationale on ABC’s Good Morning America in December, one day after being released from jail in Aruba.
“My lawyer at the time, Michael Lopez, said you need to call insurance immediately,” Giordano said.
An American Express employee who spoke to Giordano told police: “[Giordano] sounded excited, like he was about to win something.”
Giordano said in December, “I’ve purchased it [travel insurance] many times before. … I have children. And if … I go traveling and I disappear, I want them to be covered, OK? I was selecting it for me, than she got the same thing.”
Richard Forester, Gardner’s boyfriend at the time of her disappearance, says the new lawsuit only makes him more suspicious of Giordano.
“He’s exploiting Robyn’s disappearance, and trying to make a small fortune off of it,” Forester said. “I didn’t think it was possible to be more suspicious of Giordano, but this absolutely does make me more suspicious of him.”
Giordano spent four months in an Aruban jail last year as police tried to build a case against him in the disappearance of the Frederick, Md., woman.
Giordano says that he and Gardner were snorkeling on Aug. 2 off the coast of Aruba when she went missing.
“At some point, I became distressed and found out that I had a problem coming back to shore. Robyn was, I thought, behind me, and she wasn’t. I turned, did not see her, and I went for help,” Giordano said in December.
Giordano said he last saw Gardner at around 4:15 p.m. on Aug. 2, but did not tell anyone she was missing until 6 p.m., an hour and 45 minutes later.
He later speculated to ABC News that she might have been a victim of a human trafficking crime.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Joe Sterling and Darran Simon, CNN
Julia Horowitz, CNN
Eliza Mackintosh, CNN