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Architect of critical illness cover passes away

The architect of critical insurance Dr Marius Barnard has died aged 87.

A renowned South African heart surgeon, Dr Barnard also helped his brother Christiaan perform the world’s first human-to-human heart transplant in 1967.

His experience with surgery patients led him to realise that although he could extend peoples’ lives through successful operations, there was a need to help them deal with the financial costs of surviving a major illness.

As a result, he invented critical illness insurance and brought the first product to market in 1983.

In 1997 he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and given just two years to live.

Dr Barnard worked as a technical consultant with Scottish Widows. 

Scottish Widows financial protection specialist and planning manager Johnny Timpson says: “It is with much sadness to report that Dr Marius Barnard passed away peacefully this morning with his family around him. Our thoughts are with his wife Inez and family.

“I was able to discuss the Seven Families initiative with Marius and he was very taken with the collaborative approach that our industry is taking in engaging consumers and gave us his support. 

“His final words to me were: ‘Johnny, my race is run.’”


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There are 6 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. I was fortunate enough to share a platform with Dr Barnard on a number of occasions. A very decent man with a passion for offering protection to the public. We need more like him

  2. Very sad to hear this news, it was my privilege to hear him talk on a number of occasions about critical illness cover and delve deeper into the personal aspects that he had witnessed. His passion and enthusiasm for his belief in such cover was exceptional.

  3. I was a Training Manager with Albany Life in the early 90’s and had the pleasure of “looking after” Dr Barnard on his road trip through Scotland and the North of England. He was a wonderful man and was one of the few people I respected in the industry. We would spend evenings talking about everything from the Springboks to cardiovascular surgery!

  4. James Lindon-Travers 14th November 2014 at 11:21 am

    Having been diagnosed with bowel cancer in May this year I have benefitted from a significant critical illness payout. This has allowed me to concentrate on my recovery and not worry about the day to day bills. Dr Barnard’s innovation all those years ago was ground breaking and I am deeply indebted to him for his invention to allow those with life threatening illness to get better in a stress free environment.

    God bless him!

  5. It was listening to Dr Barnard back in the days of Pegasus Insurance that got me fired up with critical illness cover and gave me the desire to work on the UK CiC definitions through NFIFA’s CiWP. A privilege to have spoken with him on occasions, especially around severity based CiC and I agree with others that it is a sad loss.

  6. It was my most fortunate pleasure to have been able to not only meet Dr Marius Barnard, but also have been able to see him in person present a motivational and truly awe inspiring speech in regards to critical illness cover and its benefits. Dr Barnard’s words inspired me to spread the word of Critical Illness cover to many a client and it is with this that I can say that his work will continue to live on and help make a difference in peoples lives. As an advisor I cannot take away the suffering that such illnesses give to a client but I can somewhat help them and their loved ones deal with the financial burden that they are left with. To Dr Barnard’s family I offer my humblest of condolences and hope that his soul may rest in peace. I thank him for what he has given to the world and assure you that I will continue to let his legacy live on through my work.

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