Family of cancer victim refused life insurance payout because he didn't disclose PINS AND NEEDLES
Nic Hughes died from cancer of the gall bladder leaving wife and young twins
Insurance company Friends Life refused to honour his critical illness policySaid he had not disclosed 'reduce alcohol' advice or pins and needles painBut doctors said he drank within correct limits and pains were not relevant
Friends say insurer's decision are 'morally repugnant' and started campaign
21:54 GMT, 12 December 2012
The family of a man who died from cancer will not receive their insurance payout – because he didn’t declare he had pins and needles.
Nic Hughes, 44, died in October after battling cancer of the gall bladder leaving his wife Susannah Hancock, 44, and twin eight-year-old son and daughter.
But insurance company Friends Life have refused to honour Mr Hughes’ critical illness policy saying he did not give full disclosure of his health.
Denied payout: Nic Hughes, 44, died in October after battling cancer of the gall bladder leaving his wife Susannah Hancock and two eight-year-old twins but insurers have refused to honour his policy because he did not reveal he suffered pins and needles
The insurers say Mr Hughes should have told them his GP suggested he cut down his alcohol intake – and that he experienced pins and needles.
But medical records show he drank just 10 to 20 units of alcohol a week – below the NHS recommended weekly allowance of 21 units.
Nic’s consultant oncologist Dr Rubin Soomal, from The Ipswich Hospital, said neither alcohol, nor pins and needles were linked to his death.
The graphic designers’ devastated family and friends are convinced he was open about the state of his health and Friends Life carried out the necessary pre-policy checks. They have launched an online petition putting pressure on Friends Life to honour the policy.
The campaign has already attracted the high profile backing of celebrities such as Stephen Fry and Russell Brand.
Kester Brewin, a close friend of Mr Hughes, said he found Friends Life’s decision 'morally repugnant.'
Social media campaign: Stephen Fry is one of the high profile supporters of a petition to try and persuade Friends Life to reverse their ruling
Comedian Miranda Hart also supports the campaign. Mr Hughes' friends have got 50,000 people to sign a petition
He said the chief executive had been invited to meet the family, who live in Manningtree, Essex, to talk over the issue and reach a resolution.
Mr Brewin said: 'Rather than spending his last few month focusing on his family Nic was forced into a protracted and difficult battle with Friends Life.
'They have shown very little sensitivity to the family’s situation and have refused to pay out on a technicality which has nothing to do with the disease that tragically took his life.
'This is a shameful and miserly act by Friends Life and if they have any sort of conscience they will resolve this mess by the Christmas.
'We hope that they will do the right thing. We’ve invited the chief executive to meet the family to end this dispute without the need for legal process.
'It would be great for Friends Life to do the right thing, in the time of bonus season in the financial industry, and give justice to the family.
'This isn’t a sympathy case – they are being outrageous in their treatment. It’s morally repugnant.'
Mr Hughes, who also worked as a
lecturer, took out a critical illness policy with Friends Life in
2009. He died in October 2012.
Tragedy: Nic Hughes, 44, died in October, leaving behind Susannah Hancock, 44, and a twin son and daughter. Now his insurance company say his policy is not valid
A petition demanding Friends Life make the full payout is close to reaching the 50,000 signatures it is seeking.
Fry, who has been retweeted more than 1,200 times, wrote: 'Man dies of
cancer, insurance won’t pay due to pins and needles. Please ask
@friendslifetalk to do the right thing.'
Other celebrity supporters include former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell, comedian Miranda Hart and pop star Boy George.
A spokesman for Friends Life said: 'We are aware of the current social media activity and the case in question continues to be a priority for senior management.
'We are listening and fully understand the sentiment around these difficult circumstances.
'However, when we consider an application for critical illness cover, we need to have full disclosure of all conditions and their symptoms so that we can properly assess the case.
Friends Life has received a raft of complaints via its Twitter feed
'It is clear in this case that
medical symptoms were not disclosed in response to detailed questions on
the application form which, had we been aware of them, would have meant
we could not offer cover.
'The resolution of this case is a private matter for the family involved.
such, we have continued to liaise with them directly during this
difficult time and whilst we look for a fast-track response to this case
from the Financial Ombudsman.
'We will abide by any decision that the Ombudsman makes.'
'In this season of goodwill, we urge you to honour the bond made with you in good faith by people like Nic and his family'
eCard sent to Friends Life
Mr Hughes was diagnosed with Ulcerative colitis – a disease of the colon which is a form of inflammatory bowel disease – in 1991.
He took out Critical Illness Insurance with Friends Life in 2009. The policy states it will pay out on confirmation of serious illness.
Mr Hughes was diagnosed with metastatic cancer of the gallbladder with spread in the abdomen to lymph nodes in the peritoneum in December 2011
He was treated with palliative chemotherapy at chemotherapy, but in April 2012 Mr Hughes was given six to nine months to live.
The online petition at change.org to convince Friends Life to honour the 100,000 payout, which was started on December 3, today reached its 50,000 signatures target.
On Tuesday thousands of digital Christmas ecards emailed by Nic’s supporters, who have also set up a website nicsfight.org, to Friends Life caused the insurance company’s indox to crash.
The Christmas ecard sent by thousands of Nic's friends. Click enlarge to see in greater detail
The Christmas ecard reads: 'Nearly 200 years ago, a group of friends got together to look after each other in times of need.
'As you know, they called themselves Friends Provident and based the business on their Quaker beliefs in society, compassion and justice.
'You’ve changed your name since then, but you can still reconnect with where you’ve come from.
'In this season of goodwill, we urge you to honour the bond made with you in good faith by people like Nic and his family. Put people before profits again this Christmas. Please don’t let Nic’s family down.'
Charity worker Susannah Hancock, 44,
had to go back full-time just a month after Nic Hughes’ death to provide
for their children.
consultant Dr Rubin Soomal, from the Ipswich Hospital, said neither
alcohol or pins and needles were linked to Nic’s death and said it was
“cruel and highly distasteful” for Friends Life not to pay out.
a supporting letter written to the insurance company he said: 'I
understand that he has been refused his Critical Illness Policy in view
of previous vague symptoms of pins and needles and an alcohol intake,
which has been documented by his GP at between 10 and 20 units of
alcohol per week.
'I wish to state categorically that neither of these 2[sic] events are related to his current diagnosis.
also wish to stress that 10 or 20 units of alcohol per week are within
the Department of Health’s recommendations of safe levels.
I do not understand why these 2 pieces of information have somehow been
used to deny him a payment under his Critical Illness Policy.
'[…] His prognosis could easily be measure in under 6 or 9 months from today and I think it cruel and higly distasteful that the above 2 irrelevant details from his medical history have been used as some sort of pretext to deny him a payment on his Critical Illness Policy.'
Consultant Physician and Gastroenterologist Dr Simon Williams, from The Ipswich Hospital, who treated Nic for Ulcerative colitis, agreed with Dr Soomal.
In a supporting letter he wrote: 'I would absolutely agree with my Oncological colleague, Dr Rubin Soomal, that his current diagnosis is in no way related to the symptoms that seem to form the basis for rejecting the claim.'
Mr Hughes’ close friend of 15 years teacher Kester Brewin, 40, said Nic was “trying to be honest” when he told his GP his alcohol intake.
A spokeswoman for Friends Life said: 'Friends Life follows the ABI code on non-disclosure and Treating Customers Fairly.
'It is also important to note that in 2011 alone we paid out 89.5m in CI claims and to 90 per cent of claimants.
'We must reiterate that it is essential that all customers correctly disclose all the information asked for when applying for any form of insurance cover, even if they are not sure that it is relevant, as failure to do so can result in the policy being invalid and cancelled.'