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Friends Life faces growing petition to pay out for cancer victim’s family

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 30,000 signatures.

Nic Hughes died in October last year after being diagnosed with cancer of the gall bladder and secondary tumours in his liver.

He had notified Friends the previous January 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 had disclosed in the application.

But Friends Life refused to pay out because it said Hughes had failed to answer two questions correctly, 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 Life 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 Life to pay out to his widow and child.

Brewin says: “Instead of focusing on his family in his last few months of life, he was forced to spend it battling his life insurance firm Friends Life over his critical illness policy. Despite declaring all previous illnesses and conditions Friends Life cancelled his policy.

“Nic was convinced that he had given them full disclosure and that when they offered him the policy, they had done their checks. To put it simply, he died of cancer, but they refused to pay over pins and needles.”

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

A Friends Life spokesman says the firm is aware of the current social media activity and the case in question continues to be a priority for senior management.

He adds: “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.”

The firm says that it has asked for a fast-track response to this case from the FOS and will abide by any decision that it makes.

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