Brantham: Family of Nic Hughes win five-month life insurance payout battle

Nic Hughes, who died in October aged 44.

Nic Hughes, who died in October aged 44. - Credit: Contributed

A WIDOW of a man who died of cancer but whose life insurance payout was refused because he failed to declare his pins and needles says “justice has prevailed” after winning a five-month legal battle.

A financial ombudsman ruled insurance company Friends Life were wrong to cancel the policy of Nic Hughes, of Brantham, near Manningtree, who died at the age of 44 last October from cancer of the gall bladder, leaving behind his wife Susannah Hancock and nine-year-old twins Jake and Summer.

Before he died, the graphic designer and lecturer learned the company had cancelled his critical illness and life insurance policy, claiming he had failed to declare other symptoms which would have prompted them to refuse cover.

But the Suffolk family argued they had taken out the policy in good faith, convinced he had given full disclosure and the insurer had carried out all the necessary pre-policy checks.

Mr Hughes disclosed he suffered from ulcerative colitis when applying for the policy, but Friends Life said he failed to declare he suffered from pins and needles and had not disclosed his doctor had asked him to reduce his alcohol intake.

But in supportive letters written to the insurance company, doctors insisted his pins and needles and alcohol intake were not linked to his death.

More than 63,000 people then signed an online petition demanding Friends Life to pay out following an impassioned social media campaign backed by Stephen Fry.

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Ms Hancock took up her case with the financial ombudsman who ruled on Thursday that the policy was wrongly cancelled. Friends Life have agreed to pay the £100,000 claim in full, plus interest.

“Justice has prevailed,” said Ms Hancock, speaking to the East Anglian Daily Times. “David has defeated Goliath. It is a victory for the little man.

“Nic spent his last few months fighting the case so it’s sad he will never know the outcome, but he always knew he was in the right.

“We want to thank everyone who supported us. Hopefully this will give people like us hope for the future.”

A Friends Life spokesman said: “We committed to abide by the Financial Ombudsman Service’s (FOS) decision and, while we continue to have concerns about this case, we are sympathetic to the circumstances of Mr Hughes’ family and believe it would be unfair to prolong the claim process any further.

“Therefore, rather than refer this case to a senior Ombudsman for review, we are making a payment to the family for the full value of the claim, plus interest. This is in addition to the ex-gratia payment already made.”