If Life Cover for All partner Amanda Clancy had played her cards right, the specialist protection advice company could have had a very high profile frontman. A chance encounter while on holiday in Lake Como in Italy last September saw Clancy rub shoulders with one of the lake’s more famous residents, Hollywood actor George Clooney.
“He looked me in the eyes and gave me a really genuine, warm smile. After he passed us, my husband turned to me and said, ’that man was the double of George Clooney’ and I said ’it was him’. Nobody believed me when I told them. I suppose I could have recruited him for Life Cover for All but somehow I do not think he would have gone for it. I think he has got bigger fish to fry.”
Clancy’s experiences over the last 10 years have led her to where she is today. She spent 30 years in the cosmetics business with Estée Lauder, joining as a junior team member before working her way up to help launch the Clinique brand in South Africa in 1978. In 1989, she was appointed business manager for the Newcastle team.
In 2001, Clancy discovered she had breast cancer. It was detected through a private mammogram screening available to company employees over 40. She says the company effectively saved her life. Clancy took a year off work to get chemotherapy treatment.
“I hear of people working through it and I do not know how they do it. It is not until you go through it you realise how exhausting and debilitating the treatment is. Your concentration levels completely go. It is almost as if you have got the word cancer in front of your eyes all the time.”
Clancy returned to the firm but says it took around two years to get over the treatment and then in 2005, doctors found the cancer again, a shadow on the edge of an X-ray that could have easily been overlooked.
Clancy underwent treatment for a second time. She compares fighting cancer to “trying to walk through a wind tunnel”, constantly battling the exhaustion that came with the treatment.
“Knowing what I had been through, the fear was, are they able to manage this? Are they able to beat it? The fear factor is, what does the future hold for me. The treatment I had the second time round was completely different to the first, it was so intensive. I was more or less bed-bound for many months. My employer supported me through the whole time. I do not think I could have got through it without them.”
Two years after the cancer was found again, Clancy was keen to return to work. Her firm offered her the choice of returning to her old business manager role or working in a position created for her as a co-ordinator between the firm and a charity it supported called Look Good Feel Better.
Clancy opted for the latter. Look Good Feel Better is supported by the beauty industry and runs make-up and beauty workshops in UK hospitals for women who have undergone cancer treatment.
“It really is an amazing charity. Most of these women have lost their hair, their eyelashes, their eyebrows. They have lost their confidence and their self-esteem. They are absolutely at rock bottom and feeling terribly frightened and very weak. These sessions completely transform the way these women feel about themselves.”
Clancy left her role working with Look Good Feel Better in 2009, looking for a new career challenge.
She decided to work in her husband’s firm, Access Wealth Management. It was while she was working there that she was introduced to Mike Weedon, who had recently left Royal Liver’s IFA protection arm Progress after it closed to new business in September 2010. The two became business partners and formed Life Cover for All in November and launched its website in May this year.
The firm aims to help people with pre-existing medical conditions get life cover. IFAs can refer clients who have specialist life cover requirements. Life Cover For All will look to secure life cover for those clients, with IFAs retaining the client relationship for their other financial needs.
Clancy says she empathises with clients who have been diagnosed with a serious illness. “Unless you have been through something as major and as life-threatening as a critical illness, it is difficult to understand where that person is coming from. For someone even just to research life cover is a big deal because they are confronting the very thing they want to run away from. It is having the ability to have empathy with that person, that is where I am coming from.”
Life Cover For All has already had some major success stories. In one case, a customer approached the company, having undergone a gastric bypass operation with a heart condition and diabetes. Initially, Clancy was led to believe the client would be considered for cover, then learned he had been declined. On hearing he had been turned down, the customer was extremely disappointed, explaining he had lost ten-and-a-half stone and done everything he felt possible to be as fit as he could be. Clancy went back to the underwriter and after speaking to the insurer at length and providing a GP’s report, she secured him cover.
“I cannot tell you the difference it made to that client and to me and Mike. We were absolutely elated.”
Clancy is passionate about raising the profile of protection, particularly life cover and critical-illness cover. “I see now that people have become too dependent on thinking that cover is provided for them or that they have adequate cover when that is not always the case. It is our individual responsibility to ensure we are financially secure in the event of an illness or loss of life.”
Born: Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire
Lives: Ovington, Northum-berland with husband James and Tigger the cat
Education: Degree in common sense and 30 years of consumer experience
Career: 2010-present: founding partner, Life Cover for All; 2009-10: partner, Access Wealth Management,
1972-2009: More than 30 years with Estée Lauder in various roles
Likes: People, especially George Clooney (better looking in the flesh), good food, travel, wildlife and music
Dislikes: Dishonesty and insincerity
Drives: Nissan Juke
Book: I Dreamed of Africa by Kuki Gallman
Film: Born Free
Album: Imagine by Eva Cassidy
Career ambition: For Life Cover for All to reach its ambition of helping as many people obtain the cover they require
Life ambition: To have a cancerfree life and to visit Kuki Gall-man at her wildlife conservancy at Ol ari Nyiro in Kenya
If I wasn’t doing this, I would be…Packing my bags and travelling the world