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Honesty is the best policy for insurance

In recent weeks the issue of non-disclosure has reared its head in the consumer press. Cheltenham Borough Council has taken its former managing director, Christine Laird, to court, claiming she failed to disclose information about her health when she applied for the job.

The council argued that Laird had misrepresented and misstated her fitness for employment on her job application form by withholding a history of depressive illness and related medication.

Despite the high profile court case having no insurance connection, it does serve as a reminder for consumers about the repercussions non-disclosure can have. The message the court case gives is that it pays to tell the truth, no matter what type of application form you’re filling in.

Depression is a common illness, affecting around two million people every year in the UK. It is estimated that one in five Britons has suffered depression at some point. Sufferers are likely to non-disclose because of a mixture of embarrassment, denial and fear of having to pay a rated premium.

In fact this is a myth and most people suffering from depression, but who are on medication to control it, would be offered standard rates for life assurance.

It is the responsibility of providers and advisers to encourage detailed and accurate answers from clients in the application process.

Media coverage generated from the council’s court case can be a useful way for advisers to talk to clients about the consequences of non-disclosure.

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Each February the Financial Services Authority looks at the issues coming up in the year ahead for markets, consumers and firms, and publishes its Financial Risk Outlook.

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