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Surveillance tactics exposed by TV show

A leading protection provider says it is alarmed by the Orwellian tactics that some firms are using to investigate claimants following prime-time exposure of the practices on ITV this week.

Bright Grey products dir-ector Roger Edwards says he is concerned about the use of tactics exposed in a Tonight with Trevor McDonald report.

The programme claimed that Abbey Life sent private investigators to observe an income protection policyholder who was getting payments after a claim for chronic fatigue syndrome. The firm then demanded that she should take a controversial functional capacity evaluation test, described as a physical lie detector. The test uses a series of physical exercises. After the test, the programme said Abbey Life stopped payments.

Abbey Life spokeswoman Susanne McDonald says: “Function capacity evaluations are one of a number of tools used across the industry. It would not be used in isolation.”

Although Edwards says investigations are fairly standard after IP claims, the tactics used in the programme had an MI5 air about them.

The programme also featured a young mother who suffered a heart attack and had her critical-illness claim turned down by Scottish Provident. ScotProv finally paid out to the woman but the client’s IFA Phil Bevan said the incident had shaken his faith in critical-illness insurance.

ScotProv says it will be looking at the way that the customer was told that her claim had been rejected as it caused undue stress during a period of ill-health.

Edwards says: “The industry needs to move away from assuming that everyone is guilty of lying.”

Chadborn Baker & Kearle financial adviser Peter Chad-born says: “I would imagine that it tends to be certain companies which employ these sorts of tactics. I would be surprised if decent providers used them.”

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