Money Mail wins £240,000 for father who was ‘dying very slowly’

I was refused payout because I was dying too slowly: ‘Money Mail wins £240,000 because father’s life insurance company refused to help’

Relief: Scottish Provident finally pays £240,000 for Michael Onyett, who has motor neuron disease

Money Mail has won £240,000 for a dying man who originally refused to pay out his life insurance.

Michael Onyett, 67, a father of two who suffers from an incurable motor neurone disease, will now be able to quit work and spend his last days with his family after being handed the hefty sum by insurance company Scottish Provident.

In June, we revealed how the insurance giant effectively got rid of Onyett’s claims because he wasn’t dying fast enough.

One of the horrors of motor neuron disease—a condition that slowly wears away muscles—is that doctors can never be sure how long a patient should live.

This uncertainty allowed the Scottish Provident to withhold a lump sum of £240,000 which Mr Onyett believed he would be able to claim on two life insurance policies with terminal illness benefit.

She relied on a small print which meant she only had to hand the money over to someone who had less than 12 months to live.

The refusal meant that, despite frequent slurring and slurred speech, Mr. Onit was forced to continue working as a carpenter. Shortly after our story, the insurance company changed its position.

Onyett’s wife Debbie, 60, says: “Money Mail pushed our insurance company to do the right thing, something they should have done when he was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Now my husband can quit his job and we can enjoy the time we have left together.

We have time to think about the future and discuss exactly which way it will go.

“I would like to thank Mail for their time and assistance.”

Term insurance is one of the most important insurances that couples can buy. They are designed to pay large enough sums to cover the outstanding mortgage and ensure that a spouse or family member has a financial cushion during the most difficult times of their lives.

Last year, £26 billion worth of insurance policies were sold, according to figures from the Confederation of British Insurers. Yet, just as in the case of the Onyetts, the convoluted small print of chronic disease policies—which are only sold as part of a life cover—increasingly catches people off guard.

It has contributed to a growing number of complaints to the independent Financial Ombudsman about the sale of all protection insurance, which also includes income and critical illness protection policies.

did you know?  More than 7,000 different medical conditions can earn you higher annual retirement payments

did you know? More than 7,000 different medical conditions can earn you higher annual retirement payments

Between 2009 and 2011, the number of new annual complaints cases investigated by Ombudsperson officials increased for all three categories. As for life coverage, it increased by about 60 percent to 1,1432; for serious illnesses, by more than a third, to 817; And to protect income, by more than a quarter to 950.

Mr and Mrs Onyett took out their Self Assurance and Mortgage Policies with Scottish Provident in August 2002 after consulting a friend who was a financial advisor. They paid £83 a month in one and £177 in the other – a total of over £30,000 in premiums over the last decade.

They were told that if either of them died or were diagnosed with a terminal illness, the policies would pay up to £240,000,

Then, in the summer of 2011, Mr. Onyett went to see a doctor after he started giving his speech. He was diagnosed with motor neurone disease – the same incurable disease that scientist Stephen Hawking suffers from.

Those with this condition tend to live only two years at best. Mr. Onyett decided to claim his policies – only to discover that Scottish Provident was relying on small print in two documents – one 25 pages long, the other 24 pages long – which their financial advisor was supposed to give to the couple to deny him his payout.

The company’s decision deprived him of the opportunity to spend his days at home with his beloved wife. Instead, though his illness worsened, he was forced to continue working in order to pay off the £320,000 mortgage on the couple’s £500,000 thatched farm in Essex.

However, after our story was published, Scottish Provident accepted a new assessment from a doctor. This confirmed that Mr. Onyett had become very weak, but he still could not say how long he could survive. Despite this, the company agreed to pay the money.

A Scottish Provident spokesperson says: ‘We are very sorry to hear that Mr Onyett’s condition has deteriorated. As a result, we settled his claim in full.

Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on it, we may earn a small commission. This helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to influence our editorial independence.