One of the advantages of having been in the industry for some time is that you do get to see the results of your labours. Whether this is policies maturing, or people retiring, the experience can often be very rewarding.
However, sometimes the maturity of a policy means that there is a claim to be settled, either on death or on illness. I recently dealt with my very first critical illness claim, and it taught me more about the value of this policy than any statistics could do.
My client was a barrister who took out a critical illness policy about three years ago. His paperwork is so lax that he forgot to return a vital document to me, and so we had to re-propose all over again at a later stage.
He had had some health problems with raised blood pressure, and so the policy was quite considerably loaded. It also did not help that he was a smoker. However, he accepted the loading.
Those who have been loaded arguably should accept the loading as it is an indication that they, above others who are accepted at normal rates, have a greater need for this type of policy.
Even in difficult times, he maintained the premiums and considered this an important addition to his protection for himself and his wife.
At the end of last year, he suffered stomach cancer. Ironically, the claim was not about the health issue that the insurance company was concerned about, his heart problems, but something totally unconnected.
Fortunately, the condition was diagnosed in time and he was operated on successfully. Fortunately also, his wife notified me at an early stage, to see whether any of the policies that he had could be used to help out.
Clearly, as a self-employed person, the client was not going to be earning money for a little while.
I had arranged both health insurance and also critical illness for the client. The health insurance had a six-month deferred period, as barristers generally have six months of income earned but not paid.
I can tell you that I studied the policy conditions fairly hard on the issue of cancer. I also spoke to the insurance company, Scottish Provident, about the potential claim. The client, to be expected with his legal training, also read the policy, and thought he would not be able to claim.
The conditions make mention of invasive cancer and he was initially not aware of how his cancer would be medically described. As such, he did not want to submit a claim form.
I spoke to Scottish Provident, and although they could not absolutely at that stage say that the claim would be paid, they did encourage us to put a claim form in.
The client was eventually persuaded that for the time it took to complete the form – and it is not an onerous form to complete – he might as well put the claim form in and see what Scottish Provident would make of it.
Remember paperwork is not his forte! Discussions with his medical practitioners backed up this course of action.
Scottish Provident was fantastic. It dealt with the whole claim process very sensitively and very promptly. There was no quibble whatever, and the claim was paid in full.
I received this news early in the New Year. The letter that the client's wife sent to me really said it all. She thanked us for our help, and said that now her husband would be able to take some time off and have a much-needed holiday, which they had not been able to contemplate before.
This undoubtedly will help the recovery process.
It was a very sobering experience, and it reminded me of exactly what I can do for my clients.