The 'whole truth' needed to save claims catastrophe

Article date: 1 August 2006

Non-disclosure relating to MultipleSclerosis (MS), anxiety and depression, and smoking is the mostcommon cause of a fraught life assurance claim, according toNorwich Union Life.

IFAs can play a crucial role in helping clients avoid the trauma ofhaving a claim declined because insurers did not have all thefacts.

Tony Jupp, Norwich Union Life’s chief underwriter, says:“People need to know upfront the potential consequences ofnot disclosing details at proposal stage and the start of theprocess is where an IFA’s advice needs to be the most frankand effective."

He adds: “When it comes to applying for life assurance,people’s ability to tell the ‘whole truth’ can becompromised by a mixture of embarrassment, not wanting to face thefacts of an illness and trying to read their own meanings into whatthe insurer wants to know. We have found that issues concerning MS,anxiety and depression, and smoking cause the most problems atclaims stage.

“In the case of those who claim for MS, some fail to discloseneurological symptoms* from earlier in their lives which would havehad some bearing on the underwriting decision. Anxiety anddepression can carry such a stigma in some people’s mindsthat clients may be uncomfortable discussing them in front of anIFA or their spouse; and smokers who fail to disclose their habit– perhaps fearing a higher premium – don’t seemto appreciate the problems this would cause them and their familyif they make a claim.

“So, it is vital that the Financial Adviser ensures clientsdo not make judgements about their personal history, but simplyfill in the form as honestly and accurately as possible. This mightneed some skilful diplomacy in assessing which questions the clientwould prefer to answer in private, and which the advisor needs toprobe and clarify in person. However, it is ultimately theresponsibility of the client to decide how they answer thequestions on any application form.

“Life assurance is too important for people and theirfamilies to jeopardise receiving its full benefits. We want it tooffer our customers the benefits and security that comes with validcover and this is why full disclosure is absolutelyvital.”

Norwich Union has introduced a factsheet for customers highlightingthe importance of completing insurance application formsaccurately.


*For example - history of numbness or loss ofsensation, dizziness, blurred or double vision.

For further information, please contact:
Suzanne Judge or Ailish Hanna at Staniforth on 0161 9198495 
Louise Soulsby at Norwich Union Life on 01904 452617/07800699526

Notes to editors:

  • Norwich Union is the UK’s largest insurer. It is aleading provider of life, pensions and investment products andone of the largest financial adviser (FA) providers. FAsprovide over 70% of the company's long-term savings business inthe UK.
  • Norwich Union is the UK’s largest general insurer with amarket share of around 14%, with a focus on insurance forindividuals and small businesses.
  • Norwich Union’s news releases and a selection of imagesare available from Aviva's internet press centre at

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