Anyone who follows me on twitter (@stuartfoxmusic) will know I’ve been quite vocal about the finance company, Friends Life and the case of Nic Hughes. Friends Life refused to pay out on a critical illness policy due to a long forgotten case of pins and needles.
Friends Life, obviously frantically looking for a way out of paying when Nic became terminally ill as I believe they do in all cases, went through all his medical records, even though they had been given full access to them on application. Nic had even encouraged them to access his records since he had suffered with some illness in the past.
Finding nothing relevent to his terminal illness that they didn’t already know about, they did see that, a long time ago, Nic had told the Dr. he’d had pins and needles.
This was a well known side effect of an illness (unrelated to his death) that Nic had already disclosed to Friends Life. Nic had also been advised to cut down on his alcohol intake. This was standard advice and as he was already drinking well below the healthy limits he didn’t dwell on this.
These two irrelevant and historical medical notes were used as a pretext to refuse payout and cancel the policy when Nic became ill. Following this decision, both Nics consultant Dr. and GP condoned the decision.
In a letter from Nic’s Dr. shortly after the decision by Friends Life, he wrote: ‘I wish to state categorically that neither of these two events are related to his current diagnosis. I also wish to stress that 10 or 20 units of alcohol per week are within the Department of Health’s recommendations of safe levels. Again, I do not understand why these two pieces of information have somehow been used to deny him a payment under his Critical Illness Policy.
‘I think it cruel and highly distasteful that that the above two irrelevant details from his medical history have been used as some sort of pretext to deny him a payment on his Critical Illness Policy.’
Nic’s best friend, Kester Brewin started a campaign to try and persuade Friends Life to do the right thing. A petition on change.org currently has over 62,000 signatures and the twitter campaign has attracted celebrity support from Stephen Fry and Miranda Hart among many others. The huge petition was handed to Friends Life, who refused to send any management representative to receive it and still refuse to sit down with Nic’s widow and her twins to discuss the case.
Their PR response to a this major issue has been laughable, @friendslifetalk, once an active twitter feed on the subject of finance related issues simply fell silent and stopped tweeting two months ago when 1000’s of people were using @friendslifetalk and #nicsfight to express their disgust and ask them to at least talk to the family about this.
After complete silence since the 5th of december 2012, they start tweeting on the 5th of Jan, 2013 about pension research. After major social media outcry and coverage in all of the mainstream press, this what they use to break their silence.
This obviously sparked 100’s of responses to their tweets asking, in disgust what they were doing about Nic Hughes. They fall silent once again.
Any marketing and PR training manual can hold this up as a perfect example of how NOT to deal with a social media PR crisis. Their ‘Damage limitation’ is actually increasing the damage to their brand 10 fold as they are showing themselves to be spineless, disorganised bullies.
So why am I so angry at Friends Life? This is testament to how business is done these days. There is no regard for human life, there is no regard for the wellbeing of people, there is no common sense or sense of decency in any business. The same goes for government. Decisions will be made in the full knowledge that those decisions will ruin lives or severely reduce quality of life for affected parties. This is for the greater good (read, greater profit) according to morally bankrupt thieves like Friends Life.
Friends life must not get away with this disgusting behaviour. They could find a detail like this in ANY insurance policy so the truth is, no one is really insured under the current system, especially if you are with Friends Life.
If you want to know more, or help out by letting Friends Life know what you think then follow the social media links above, or use the following info:
You can sign the petition here: https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/friends-life-friendslifetalk-pay-out-nic-hughes-critical-illness-policy-nicsfight
And you can contact friends life to tell them to do the right thing below:
Phone: 0800 000 080