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Policyholder awaits ruling on disability payout case

A policyholder is waiting for a verdict after taking Claims Services International, a subsidiary of Unum Provident and Phoenix Life, to an employment tribunal for allegedly breaching the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

Garry Field was diagnosed with depression in October 2004 but his permanent health insurance policy, which was set up by his employer Investec, stopped paying in December 2006 after just over a year of payments.

The policy was originally written by Swiss Life which was acquired by Resolution in 2005. Resolution merged R&SA and Swiss Life operations to create Phoenix Life. It then appointed Unum-owned CSI to administer its existing policies.

Field says CSI told him it cancelled the policy based on medical information it had seen but Field says it would not elaborate on the nature of the information and refused to deal with him directly.

He appealed against the decision, providing evidence from his psychiatrist, and won. CSI reinstated and back-paid Field’s sickness benefit but he still feels mistreated.

He says the stress of having no income during the six-month appeal process caused arthritis in his hips to worsen significantly, eventually requiring a double hip replacement in May 2007.

He also says that he exhausted his savings and nearly defaulted on his mortgage.

He says: “I feel severely wronged. I have suffered serious physical and financial stress as a result of the company’s appalling administration process. It has not made the necessary amendments to its appeal and claim-handling process to accommodate disabled people.”

A Unum spokesperson says: “We are not at liberty to talk about individual cases but we pride ourselves on paying all valid claims. As far as discrimination goes, we champion the rights of disabled people more than any other insurer in the UK.”

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