When father-of-one Paul Webb was told that he may have less than 12 months to live, he took some solace in the fact that he had life insurance with terminal illness cover.
The £200,000 payout would allow him to reduce his hours at work and spend more time with his ten-year-old son.
But, when the 47-year-old came to claim, his insurer Legal & General refused to pay — because there is a chance that Paul could live longer.
The insurance giant, which made £2.1 billion profit in 2018, acknowledged he is terminally ill, but said he could live for up to five years if he has a lung transplant.
L&G says its policy requires the treating specialist and its own medical officer to agree life expectancy is less than 12 months
Esure was forced to pay a widower his home insurance claim in 2014 after arguing his wife’s death — following a violent attack in public — did not meet its policy definition of ‘an assault in the street’.
One woman was denied a payout under serious illness benefit as she had allowed her husband’s life support to be withdrawn 13 days after a stroke to donate his organs.
ReAssure Ltd said had he survived 28 days, she would have been entitled to a payout, but it was told to pay in 2013.
Travel insurer Mapfre was forced to pay up in 2015 after it denied a couple whose young nephew died the day before their holiday — because he was not considered a ‘close relative’ under the policy.
Martyn James, of complaints site Resolver, says: ‘Quibbling over the number of weeks people have left to live or looking for reasons not to pay, rather than how best to support people facing this impossible situation, is unacceptable.’
Legal & General says it has ‘every sympathy’ with Paul, but its policy requires the treating specialist and its own medical officer to agree life expectancy is less than 12 months.
A spokesman adds: ‘If a customer is on a waiting list that will extend their life beyond 12 months, the circumstances would not usually meet the terms of our policy definition.
‘If the treating specialist and our medical officer agree an individual’s condition is changing, they may agree a life expectancy of less than 12 months.’
An Association of British Insurers spokesman says: ‘Nearly all (97 per cent) of life insurance, critical illness and income protection claims are paid, with insurers paying out nearly £14 million every day on these policies to help families cope financially at a very distressing time.’
How to find the best life insurance
Protecting your family at your death – or if you fall seriously ill is – one of the first things financial advisers often recommend.
It’s important when buying life insurance to make sure you get the right high quality policy and the best price.
There are three main types of life cover: level term, decreasing term and whole of life.
The first pays out a set amount if you die before a defined date, the second slowly decreases the payout and is often used in line with a mortgage term, and the third pays out whenever you die.
Read more about the different types of life and protection insurance here.
The cost of life insurance can vary substantially due to the way commission is charged on policies.
For many years This is Money has recommended that the cheapest way to get a policy is with a broker called Cavendish Online. It charges a one-off £25 fee and then 100 per cent of the commission it gets is reinvested back into policies to bring down premiums.
This is Money has now joined up with Cavendish Online to offer this service to our readers.
> Find out more about life insurance and see how much it would cost here