The protection industry will once again come under the spotlight tonight in an ITV programme on the dangers to consumers of non-disclosure.
The Tonight programme will follow people facing serious personal and financial risk after insurers refused claims for non-disclosure of information.
A featured case from earlier this year involves 73-year-old great-grandmother Jean Edwards, who fell ill on holiday in Turkey and was unable to return home when travel insurer EHIC Plus declined her claim.
She died shortly after arriving back in the UK and her family then received a hospital bill for almost £100,000.
EHIC directors claim Mrs Edwards' £38 policy, which she bought online, was invalid because although she ticked a box confirming some heart and breathing conditions, she did not properly declare all her illnesses.
Nick Kirwan, assistant director of health and protection at the Association of British Insurers (ABI), who is due to appear on the show, says people should not view insurers as "the bad guy".
"All we ask customers to do is to answer the questions carefully and to the best of their knowledge and belief."
Despite declining the claim the insurers gave the family a £30,000 ‘humanitarian' payment to help bring Mrs Edwards home.
Kirwan says travel insurance in particular results in a "trade off" when people want to book last minute deals and want the market to deliver a choice of access to holiday cover.
"Travel insurance is cheap and easily available and everyone wants it to stay that way or people would stop buying it.
"15-20 million travel insurance policies are written each year. If a doctors certificate was demanded for every one the cost of travel insurance would then rocket from £30 to £130 including the cost of the certificate."
He says while the Tonight programme focuses on a series of more unusual cases, including with critical illness cover and non-disclosure of previous criminal convictions, the affected parties would have found themselves in the same situation had they taken out no insurance, a much more common scenario.
"Insurance does not stop things from happening," he says.
In a bid to improve customer understanding of protection and lower decline rates due to missing information, the ABI introduced three categories of non-disclosure last January; ‘innocent', resulting in the claim being paid in full, ‘negligent', applying a proportionate remedy, and ‘deliberate' or ‘without any care', resulting in a declined claim.
Ed Stuart-Brown, head of protection sales at Friends Provident, says: "It is very disappointing [Mrs Edwards'] story is picked out given the huge efforts the industry has gone to in order to try to pay claims even when there is non-disclosure.
"The ABI did a fantastic job promoting proportionate payments as another mechanism insurers can use to pay out. But then this is the difference between commoditised online insurance products and the life side."
However he says all insurers could still do more work on asking the right questions.
‘You Think You're Insured?' airs tonight on ITV1 at 8pm.
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