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Over 44K sign petition for Friends Life to pay claim

Nic Hughes

An online petition calling for Friends Life to pay out on a life and critical illness policy for a father who died of cancer has amassed over 44,000 signatures.

Nic Hughes (pictured) died in October 2011 after being diagnosed with cancer of the gall bladder and secondary tumours in his liver.

He notified Friends the previous January that he intended to claim on his and his wife’s joint policy, which would be worth in excess of £100,000.

The Observer reports at the time of applying for the life and critical illness policy in 2009, he had been suffering from an inflammatory bowel condition which he disclosed in the application.

But Friends Life refused to pay out because it said Hughes had failed to answer two questions correctly, concerning whether he had numbness or tingling in his face and limbs and whether he had ever been asked to reduce his alcohol intake for medical reasons.

A letter from Friends said: “The recent symptoms of numbness, loss of feeling and tingling sensations recorded in your medical records, together with the abnormal liver function tests you had, could have indicated the onset of a number of serious medical conditions. If they had known about them, our underwriters would not have been able to offer you cover for at least 12 months.”

The petition has been started by Hughes’ friend Kester Brewin to try and persuade Friends to pay out to his widow and child. At the end of last week, it had over 44,100 signatures.

Hughes’ family has also complained to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

A Friends Life spokesman says: “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.  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.”


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There are 11 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Profit before morality yet again. The result of the Thatcher era putting the making of money above everything!

  2. It’s nothing to do with ‘profit over morality’ and everything to do with non-disclosure being an issue every insurance firm has to take a fairly tough stance on in order to remain solvent, let alone profitable.
    If Friends Life ‘do the right thing’, it will result in them having to jack up the cost of critical illness cover for the majority, as they will not be able to rely on the medical information provided to them.
    Unfortunately this online petition is nothing more than a bandwagon for ill-informed folk to express their armchair outrage. The verdict should be left to the Ombudsman like any other case.
    And no, I don’t work for Friends Life.

  3. How do you equate this travesty with Conservative policy? This has nothing to do with politics.

  4. The company is either clutching at straws or blatantly lying i know the chap and he did disclose the tingling in his arms as this is where he experienced it not his face. Due to this disclosure to the company he paid an excess fee .his death was due to a completely different condition as was confirmed by two of the consultants treating him .
    I would suggest to everyone tied in to a policy with this company to cancel it now .

  5. I hope this does serious damage to their reputation. Disgraceful.

  6. The refusal by Friends Life of Nic Hughes insurance claim for cancer would probably be illegal under next year’s new law on insurance disclosure, effective from March. See my blog about this.

    Short link:

  7. Please sign the petition online, support the family and do what you can to highlight the immorality of friends life.

    People count!

  8. i will wait for the Ombudsmans decision & report before considering signing any petition, otherwise it is like have a jury trial, with the hanging verdict given before the trial immediately after an article in the sun. Whilst the increasing disclosed facts make me favour tge client, we haven,t seen all the facts yet.

  9. I have signed the petition and sent e-mails asking others to do likewise.

    My e-mail was headed “Rip Off Life Companies”

    Sorry about this ‘round robin’, but this is exceptional.

    As you all may be aware insurance companies follow one major rule – take the money and do whatever is possible to avoid paying out. Good advisers are always careful to ensure that things are done to avoid this potential outcome, but sometimes people deal with the flog it & run merchants who mainly work directly for the insurance companies and are not independent. This is where the trouble often starts. This particular company is owned by what is termed a Vulture Fund – that is a fund that buys up insurance companies (particularly those who may be struggling), much like the asset strippers of old.
    This particular case is tragic and arguably demonstrates the venality and callousness of some life assurance companies.

    Please add you signature to ensure they don’t get away with this outrageous decision. One may justifiably ask where are the regulators when they are really needed?

  10. The most disturbing thing about all this is people actively encouraging others to cancel their insurance policies. This is completely irresponsible.

    This is not like boycotting Starbucks where only coffee is involved. If a family is left to suffer because they cancelled a policy due to your “recommendation” then shame on you.

    Insurers are like bookmakers and casinos. You are gambling with them on a particular outcome and they stack the odds in their favour. However, if they never paid out nobody would ever play.

  11. Hear hear.

    The hysterical reaction of a proliferation of unaccountable blogs and ‘social media’ is rather sickening, and is prejudicial with regard to a fair outcome of this case.

    Jon Danzig – in terms of this case, next year’s law is irrelevant, and the legislation will not be retrospective.

    Only two parties have the full facts of this case –
    Friends Life and FOS (the customer is alleged to have not given full disclosure).

    It’s up to the FOS to decide from the facts, and no amount of online bullying should be allowed to prejudice this.

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