Following an investigation, the Financial Ombudsman wrote to Friends Life this week. The Ombudsman told Friends Life that Nic Hugh’s Critical illness policy should never have been canceled and should by paid in full. Friends Life have accepted this decision and will finally do the right thing, honouring the policy and paying his widow £100,000 after canceling his critical illness policy due to pins and needles. To their credit, Friends life are accepting the Ombudsman’s recommendation without further dragging out this case to a formal hearing. But I’m sure this is only because they finally understand they are beaten.
Friends Life have been defiant in their refusal to even consider this case and meet with Nic’s family following their refusal to pay out on this policy late last year in a spectacular display of greed, incompetence, insensitivity and arrogance.
Nic Hughes, pictured above, was diagnosed with cancer of the gall bladder last year and died last october. Instead of spending his final weeks with his wife, Susannah and 8 year old twins he instead used his final breath fighting a battle with the morally repugnant insurance company.
Friends life refused to honour Nic’s critical illness policy on the following technicalities.
1) His GP had advised him to reduce his alcohol intake.
This record was a mistake, Nics medical records show alcohol consumption of just 20 units a week – The NHS recommended weekly allowance is 21 units.
2) He had reported pins and needles to his GP but had not disclosed it when applying for the insurance policy.
Nic was diagnosed with Ulcerative colitis, which he disclosed to Friends Life. In return for his honesty he paid hugely inflated premiums. Pins and needles is a text book symptom of Ulcerative colitis so, in effect this was already disclosed.
Nic’s consultant Consultant oncologist Dr Rubin Soomal, of Ipswich Hospital, stated that neither alcohol, nor pins and needles were in any way linked to the death of Nic Hughes. Both Dr Soomal, and Nic’s GP confirmed that there was no link between alcohol consumption or pins and needles and Nic’s final illness and death. Both Drs attacked Friends life for using two irrelevent details out of context as a pretext to refuse the payout.
Basically, Friends Life were just looking for any way out of paying. They most likely pay bonuses to staff observent enough to notice these minor, irrelevant technicalities.
Kester Brewin, a close friend of Nic’s started an online petition to try and persuade Friends Life to do the right thing. To date, this petition has received over 63,000 signatures and the campaign has attracted the support of celebraties such as Stephen Fry, Russel Brand and Miranda Heart. Despite being aware of the public outcry, Friends Life refused to meet with the family to discuss the case any further, stating that the case would need to be referred to the Financial Ombudsman if the family wanted to take it any further.
Friends life executives even refused to receive delivery of petition in person in a magnificent display of arrogance and insensitivity.
Friends Life said almost nothing throughout the whole #NicsFight campaign, but they did say two things:
– That the dispute should go straight to the Financial Ombudsman, and
– That they would do all they could to fast-track this process.
So you can imagine the anger the Hughes family feel when all they get from the FO – who have been brilliant keeping them updated – is ‘we’re still waiting for documents from Friends Life.’.
In short, Friends Life have been dismissive, arrogant, insensitive and Rude. They forced Nic and his family to spend his final days locked in an unnecessary fight instead of enjoying their last moments together. They have have added to his families hardship following his death since, as well as enduring the grieving process, they must also deal with the financial hardship and uncertainty that Friends life have inflicted on them.
Through all this, the most ridiculous thing is, Friends Life have irreversibly damaged their brand because of their appalling handling of this case. The sorded details of this case will remain on the internet for ever, they had so many chances to see sense and do the right thing, and now they are being forced to, there is no going back.
Kester has done an amazing thing, both for Nic’s family and for many many other people who now know not to trust Friends Life with their policies. He has been a fierce friend to Nic, and I truly admire his determination to see Friends Life do the right thing.
I now wish Nic’s Wife, family and friends peace. I hope that now this nasty business is resolved, they can begin to put it behind them. I also hope Friends Life feel the full force of karma. The 100k they are being forced to pay is only the beginning.
Read my original blog about this case here: http://www.mevsworld.co.uk/2013/02/06/friends-life-refuse-payout-nicsfight-nic-hughes/