Daily Mail

Ter­mi­nally cruel

It’s the fi­nal in­sult for those in the last months of their lives: in­sur­ers who still in­sist they’re not sick enough to get a pay­out

- By Fiona Parker Health · Society · Insurance · Aviva · Scottish Widows Bank · London · Marie Curie · Legal & General Group · Scott Sinclair · Peter Bull

Life in­sur­ers could soon face an in­quiry into the ‘cruel and un­fair’ way they treat dy­ing cus­tomers, Money Mail can re­veal.

The in­sur­ance is sup­posed to pro­vide you with the peace of mind that your loved ones will be fi­nan­cially se­cure if you die. Many poli­cies will also pay out early if you are di­ag­nosed with a ter­mi­nal ill­ness.

How­ever, some are us­ing small print to deny dy­ing pol­i­cy­hold­ers vi­tal pay­outs.

The prob­lem is that many firms re­quire cus­tomers to prove they have less than 12 months to live. But it is dif­fi­cult even for doc­tors to pre­dict how long some­one has left, with many re­luc­tant even to try.

it can mean cus­tomers end up go­ing back and forth be­tween their doc­tor and in­surer to get the dis­tress­ing pa­per­work re­quired.

even then, the in­surer can still refuse to pay out if their own med­i­cal ex­perts dis­agree with the pol­i­cy­holder’s spe­cial­ist.

Money Mail has long cam­paigned for fairer treat­ment for the ter­mi­nally ill. Time and again we have ex­posed how dev­as­tated fam­i­lies have been forced to spend their last months to­gether bat­tling in­sur­ers.

in some cases they have faced los­ing out on thou­sands of pounds be­cause the amount poli­cies pay out of­ten re­duces each month.

Now, major providers — in­clud­ing Aviva, AiG, Legal & Gen­eral, LV=, Scot­tish Wid­ows, Royal Lon­don and Zurich — are fi­nally set to face an in­quiry by a cross-party group of MPs.

The All-Party Par­lia­men­tary Group for Ter­mi­nal ill­ness told Money Mail that it plans to in­ves­ti­gate how in­sur­ers de­fine ter­mi­nal ill­ness. SiR

Jef­fReY DON­ALD­SON, vicechair of the group, says: ‘We are hop­ing to set up an in­quiry this month, as we know this is­sue is af­fect­ing a lot of ter­mi­nally ill peo­ple. The group will first need to for­mally agree to pro­ceed with it.’

The same group con­ducted a sim­i­lar re­view of the Depart­ment for Work and Pen­sions (DWP) last year.

At present, ben­e­fit claimants can get higher pay­ments and faster ac­cess to money if a doc­tor says they are not ex­pected to live for more than six months.

But fol­low­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the group said this means ter­mi­nally ill pa­tients can be left without help be­cause many doc­tors would not put this in writ­ing.

A re­port later added that ‘ the distress, de­lay and fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties faced by ter­mi­nally ill peo­ple and their fam­i­lies wait­ing for ben­e­fits’ were ‘not jus­ti­fi­able’.

it’s un­der­stood the DWP is look­ing at how to bet­ter sup­port peo­ple near­ing the end of their lives.

Scott Sin­clair, of ter­mi­nal ill­ness char­ity Marie Curie, says: ‘Dy­ing peo­ple should not be de­nied an in­sur­ance pay­ment be­cause health pro­fes­sion­als can­not say for cer­tain how long they have to live. forcing ter­mi­nally ill peo­ple to prove they have less than 12 months to live is cruel and un­fair.’

Mother- of-four Ruth La­mont had her claim re­jected after be­ing told she was ter­mi­nally ill.

The nurs­ery school teacher had been rushed to hospi­tal with sus­pected sep­sis in De­cem­ber 2017 after vis­it­ing her GP be­cause she felt sick and lethar­gic. She was later di­ag­nosed with mul­ti­ple myeloma, an in­cur­able blood can­cer.

Ruth, 53, says: ‘i was dev­as­tated when i found out it was ter­mi­nal and im­me­di­ately thought of my chil­dren.’

Ruth and her hus­band, a 55-yearold en­gi­neer, had paid £210 a month for life cover with AiG since Septem­ber 2017. The pol­icy en­ti­tled them to a £380,000 pay­out if one of them died or was di­ag­nosed with a ter­mi­nal ill­ness. But when the cou­ple made a claim eight months after Ruth’s di­ag­no­sis, it was re­jected. The pol­icy stated that a ter­mi­nal ill­ness meant she must have less than 12 months to live, and her con­sul­tant had said the ‘me­dian’ life ex­pectancy of some­one with her con­di­tion was 83 months. Ruth, who lives in County Down, says: ‘ You are ba­si­cally be­ing told you are not ter­mi­nally ill enough to re­ceive the money.’ An AiG Life spokesman says: ‘ We as­sess claims based on pol­icy con­di­tions to en­sure that cus­tomers are treated fairly and eq­ui­tably.’

Peter Bull, 66, is un­likely ever to re­ceive his £150,000 pay­out from Aviva. When the grand­fa­ther of seven was di­ag­nosed with prostate can­cer in 2015, it had al­ready spread and is in­cur­able.

The re­tired NHS man­ager, who is mar­ried to eileen, 61, a re­tired ad­min worker, had been pay­ing £49 a month into a life in­sur­ance pol­icy with Aviva, but when he tried to make a claim it was re­jected be­cause he was not ex­pected to die within 12 months.

The re­jec­tion let­ter stated that pa­tients entered into a clin­i­cal trial he was due to take part in sur­vived for at least two years, according to me­dian fig­ures.

Peter tried to claim again a year later, but re­ceived an­other re­jec­tion. He took his case to the Om­buds­man,

 ??  ?? Twice re­jected: Peter Bull, who has ter­mi­nal prostate can­cer, with his wife Eileen
Twice re­jected: Peter Bull, who has ter­mi­nal prostate can­cer, with his wife Eileen

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