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Guest blog on the battle between a cancer victim’s family and an insurance company

Posted on 11 December 2012 | 10:12am

By Ben Hewitt

Two months ago we lost a good friend, Nic Hughes. He was a creative and talented university lecturer, a loving husband and doting father of amazing twins. He died of cancer aged 44.

Nic took out an insurance policy with Friends Life in good faith, convinced that he had given full disclosure and that Friends Life had carried out all the necessary pre-policy checks. Nic’s friends and family have been saddened and appalled to discover that Friends Life have refused to honour Nic’s critical illness policy and make payment to his widow and children.

Friends Life cite two pieces of information in Nic’s medical records which they say should have been declared by Nic and this entitles them to cancel the policy for non-disclosure and avoid making payment.  Nic died of cancer of the gall bladder, a disease which was totally unrelated to the alleged non-disclosure of pins-and-needles or an occasion where his GP told him to watch his drinking.  Nic’s cancer consultant wrote to Friends Life saying “I think it cruel and highly distasteful that 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.”
News of  the plight of Nic’s family broke in The Observer last Sunday and was followed by a petition at launched by one of Nic’s closest friends. The site has been shared online through twitter and facebook and over 47,000 people have signed the petition in less than a week.  Seeing this huge outpouring of support for Nic’s family has been truly inspiring.
Just before he died Nic told me about his experience of being resuscitated. He said that everything was dark and there was just a thread left. He grabbed it and pulled himself back. He said the thread was love and in the end that’s all there is: love.  He wrote about this experience on June 18th in his personal blog: It is a powerful and honest account of his battle with cancer where he wrote that “more than anything else I want to see my kids grow up and go grey with my wife. Sadly this is not to be.”
Friends Life was founded in Yorkshire in 1832  when two former pupils of Ackworth School, Businessmen Samuel Tuke and Joseph Rowntree were concerned when a master at the school died, aged 30, without having made financial provision for his wife and family. Thousands of ordinary people this Christmas are  asking Friends Life do the right thing, to recall their founding principles and honour the policy of another much loved teacher.
If you would like to support the campaign then please visit

  • Under a new law coming into force next March, Nic Hughes insurance claim would almost certainly have to be accepted. A spokesman for the Association of British Insurers told me that he could not comment on the Friends Life case. However, he did confirm that under the new law, information inadvertently left out of an insurance application and which wasn’t relevant to the illness being claimed for, could not result in the claim being refused by the insurer. Most leading insurers, he said, have already adopted the principles of the new law before it comes into force.

    See my new blog about this:

    Short link:

    Best wishes, Jon

  • Anonymous

    And to think insurance firms get taken in when a pot of paint falls from top of the stepladder onto an old lounge carpet and the knackered sofa when “decorating”, that they claim. And then there is the vast hole it causes them in tapped backend “whiplash” injuries. And etc.. But when a genuine claim comes in, they procrastinate and play bad. Bizarre!

  • Olli Issakainen

    Just watched the video of you and Delia Smith.
    God asks us to have FAITH.
    Faith is different from BELIEF. Fallen angels believe that God exists, but they do not have faith.
    Faith is a GIFT from God. We live in a dark world ruled by Lucifer.
    Only God can draw us towards Jesus, not our own efforts.
    We cannot deduce the existence of God. Christianity is not about logic.
    The aim our our faith is that our SOULS will be SAVED.
    We need to make that Kierkegaardian “LEAP OF FAITH” into unknown.
    Faith is not against reason. But it goes deeper: emotions and intitution are also involved.
    Faith is mystery.
    We do not KNOW that Christianity is true and other religions wrong – we BELIEVE so.
    In the Fall SIN entered the world. The world we see is not like God intended it to be.
    Only in Heaven will everything be alright. You can go to Heaven by believing in JESUS.
    Human beings have free will – this is the reason for suffering in the world.
    God did not make us robots. When Adam and Eve decided to use their free will for sin, EVERYTHING CHANGED.
    God has already given us Jesus to change things around. But this world will never be perfect.
    I was a bit puzzled by references to Teilhard de Chardin. This Jesuit priest – I have his 1955 book The Phenomenon of Man – sees evolution as a process that leads to increased COMPLEXITY.
    Leading the the Omega Point.
    Blaise Pascal saw that both Christians and atheists were making a bet.
    If there is not God, no one wins anything.
    But is there is God, atheist loses and a Christian wins everything.
    You do not lose anything by believing in God.
    Ps. I recommend you to read books by CS Lewis on Christianity.

  • Anonymous

    Excellent, the more genuine one is, the more stuck you get in muddier waters!Honesty does it still exist?

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