Success to us is looking at the real life experiences of our customers - not just focussing on the numbers and statistics
While we’re proud of our claims statistics, real pride comes from hearing how the money from a claim actually helps people when they need it most. Read stories from our customers who took the time to share their experiences and explain how having protection changed their lives.
Read our latest story from the Brett family. Their successful claim enabled them to improve Max's quality of life.
John never thought that he would need to claim on his critical illness insurance policy. He led an active life, teaching swimming and keeping up with his young children, but in the blink of an eye, everything changed. A diagnosis for prostate cancer turned his world upside down.
When it came to critical illness cover, I didn’t think much about it. I’ve always felt I was pretty fit - I worked at a leisure centre, I’m a regular swimmer and teach swimming, I drink very little, so as far as I was concerned I was living a pretty healthy life. I didn’t entirely dismiss getting critical illness cover, but I did think that it didn’t really apply to me.
I originally had cover with the Prudential. It was good cover but it was expensive. In March of 2016, I switched, with my financial adviser recommending AIG Life.
Above all, I wanted insurance to cover the mortgage should anything happen to me. My wife would be faced with an overload of bills, so I just wanted cover just in case I died. My adviser recommended I include critical illness cover, saying that I couldn’t guarantee what might happen, so I went along with his suggestion thinking I would never need it. It turns out, I would need it within a year of taking it out.
It all started with some routine tests, which included a check on my prostate. I had all the scans along with a letter from the hospital saying that nothing significant had been found, much to my relief.
At the follow up appointment, my consultant said nothing very sinister was found - not the all clear I was hoping for. He said they would like to explore a little bit further. I declined. I saw myself as a healthy male, with no ongoing problems, so I didn’t want anybody poking around unnecessarily.
It was a while later when I took my son to the hospital for something unrelated and I had a chat with the doctor and mentioned about the consultant wanting to do a biopsy. He said I needed to have it done, it’s better to be safe than sorry. So I took his advice.
I was still confident when I went in for the results - I always thought I was a lucky man but unfortunately, I wasn’t on that particular day. I remember the consultant had a sombre face and when he mentioned the word cancer, the floor beneath me fell away. I was in a daze. It was surreal. It was something you think is not really happening, it’s a bad dream. I’m going to go home, go to bed, wake up and think what a nightmare. But it wasn’t a dream.
I was gutted. I had my little girl with me at the time and I had a cry. It felt like I’d been hit with a sledgehammer. I left the room with the Consultant and sat with a specialist nurse, who were just wonderful. She explained to me that although it was cancer, there’s a 95% cure rate for prostate cancer when caught early and they assured me that mine had been caught early.
So, despite the shock of it all, the prognosis was good, but I had to decide on a treatment. There is surgery –but its very invasive. Then there’s radiotherapy, but that has side effects. I was told to take a few months to consider the treatment options. Everyone was very supportive but I wanted the best treatment option that was going to give me the best quality of life afterwards.
I had a week off from work when I was first diagnosed to get my head around everything - there were lots of tears but I pulled myself together and I thought “right – ’'I've got to deal with this”. I decided surgery was the best option for me. I could have had surgery in my local hospital in Stoke but the surgeon did warn me that I could be left with no sexual function. Primarily I needed to get rid of the cancer, but if there was a chance of saving nerves, and in turn having a better quality of life afterwards, I would take it so I opted for nerve saving surgery.
My surgeon - he was a saint! He put my mind at rest and things went well. I’m very optimistic but I don’t want to speak too optimistically. I am positive but cautiously positive. So going back my claim - I remember looking at my cover details before I was diagnosed as I was curious seeing as I was being tested for prostate cancer at the time. I glanced at my policy and saw that prostate cancer was on the list of conditions that aren’t covered, so I forgot about it. It was only after I was diagnosed, when I was putting some paperwork away, I happened to look at the policy again. It said prostate cancer wasn’t covered unless you had a Gleeson score of 7 - I thought hang on a minute, I’m sure I had that. I think I might qualify.
I knew that as I was working for the council I would get six months off work fully paid so I was lucky, but there were still bills to pay. I spoke to my financial adviser who said I should give AIG Life a call.
I spoke to a lady in your claims department and was sent the necessary forms. I was trying really hard not to get my hopes up. I had gotten my hopes up thinking I wasn’t going to have cancer, so I thought if I start thinking too positively there will be some loophole found that will stop the pay-out. I sent a copy of my passport and the relevant letters associated with the procedure of diagnosis and that was it.
The process was quick. I had expected it to take a good few months, but it was a lot quicker than that. The only thing that slowed it down was the doctors’ delay in getting a document across to yourselves. I contacted my doctor after four weeks to get an update and then called AIG who said the relevant forms were with my GP to fill in. You also sent me a letter to update me on my case, which was really helpful.
So finding out my claim had been accepted - here is a comparison: I told you how I felt when I was diagnosed with cancer. Finding out the claim had been approved was the exact opposite to that. It was like winning the lottery. I knew I qualified, but I did keep thinking it wasn’t going to be paid. I am not knocking insurance companies but they do turn down claims.
I will never forget getting the call from yourselves. It was a Friday after work, I went up to the staff room to get my phone and as I picked it up it rang. I can’t tell how fast my heart was beating when the lady said she was from AIG. The whole thing felt like it was in slow motion - she said “I am pleased to tell you…” and then she told me the amount. Oh my goodness - it was the most amazing news.
I couldn’t believe it - it was going to cover more than the mortgage. I wasn’t sure how I was going to recover and I didn’t really know if I was going to be capable going back to work full time, so I was only really thinking about the mortgage, so being able to pay it off and still have some leftover was fantastic. I was also told about your Claims Support Fund. All I had to do was send a couple of letters in and I received £300. Absolutely marvellous. I honestly can’t speak highly enough about your company. Fantastic service.
What would I say to someone thinking about taking critical illness insurance? Well I would tell them how important it was. It doesn’t matter how fit you are when it comes to cancer, it can happen to anybody. A heart attack can happen out of the blue. No end of athletes are having heart attacks - you just don’t know. Looking at it another way - would you not have car insurance? You have to have car insurance - it’s the law. My personal view is you’ve got to have critical illness insurance too. I think it should be made compulsory.
I had my first blood test in August, which was the first one I have had since having the operation. They have to leave it that long to make sure it’s worked. The nurse phoned me up to give me the results - my PSA levels were 0.0001. To compare, just before I went into hospital it went up to 12. So everything is looking very positive.
Ian (35) and his wife Rebecca (34) were looking forward to the birth of their second son. Both in their early thirties, they lived a normal and relatively stress free life. That was until their son Max was announced profoundly deaf moments after being born in May 2017. Ian wanted to share their story and to offer advice to those thinking about taking out insurance.
We are a normal young working class couple – my wife’s a teacher and I work in the ambulance service. We have regular outgoings like everyone else so we were concerned if something was to hit our family, what would we do? We wouldn’t be able to afford any financial difficulty we may fall into.
There’s always this big fear that insurance companies won’t ever pay out and they just take your money. This big stigma surrounds it and that is what everyone at my work, and my family including my wife, were telling me but I stuck to my guns and went through a financial adviser for life insurance and they helped me look at the market. My wife often questioned why we were paying a big debit a month for our critical illness cover, but I knew it would pay dividends especially as it had unborn sibling cover – it was important to me to cover Max before he was born.
Max was born in the evening and had an immediate routine newborn hearing screen. The screening came back negative. The next morning they carried out another test which confirmed no reading so they referred him for a paediatric hearing test. They put wires and headphones on your baby’s head to see if they respond. The two nurses looked at each other and looked back at me and I just knew something was very wrong. I said to my wife Becca, 'this is really bad, something isn’t right here.'
They took us to a completely muted room where we had to sit in an armchair and cradle our newborn baby while they put massive headphones on him and attached large wires and leads in order to run a series of tests. Luckily Max was asleep at the time but the whole process took five hours. They confirmed Bilateral Sensorineural Hearing Loss – in other words – profoundly deaf.
I broke down. I was very emotional. I couldn’t accept it.
It’s life changing – we felt like we had been hit by a truck. You just look at your baby thinking they are so helpless and defenceless how can something like this happen? You then start to question the birth – everything that led to this point.
The first thought for Max was loneliness and when we first bought Max home we were so worried about this. Being deaf, if you switch off the lights in a room, you really are all alone in darkness – so we now sleep with our en suite light on so he isn’t alone. We love music. Our whole family is really musical and I think that’s what devastated us, that he would never hear us say mum or dad and also not being able to listen to music, what that can do to your life and what emotions that can bring.
When people come round to ask us questions, I just can’t answer as I know I’ll break down and cry. There’s this little cute boy all wrapped up with everything in proportion including his ears but they are just not working. I know that’s crazy to some parents whose children have something much worse but it’s different when it’s your child – you’re so defensive.
Through our audiologist, he told us about cochlear implants and that Max will hear – he won’t hear a pin drop but he will hear and that just gave us hope so we carried on through the motions.
I was driving into work and remembered that our life insurance covered critical illness with child cover. I’ll admit it, when I first rang AIG I was shaking, I was thinking I need to get my story across so factual and true.
Someone could see I was tripping over my words and they said “Just breathe Mr Brett” – some people could take offence to that, but it’s what I needed. And for her to say that, she just helped me.
AIG provided a successful claim to allow us the funds to support Max in so many ways that will define his and our future. When we got told it was successful, the person who told us was crying. She sounded like she was so happy to tell me that we had been successful that you could hear it in her voice because I had built that sort of rapport with her over that time that she knew how much this was going to mean to us.
When we found out the claim had been agreed, Becca and I just looked at each other – knowing we could now afford to buy Max the things that he needed. It means Becca will now be able to stop work, take care of Max and take Noah to his first day at school.
Max’s cochlear implants are the price of a small car for each ear. They are around £8,000 each which the NHS pays for, though we have to pay £100 each time Max loses one. That could obviously happen regularly given that he’s just a little boy. I don’t know how a family would cope without the input AIG have had. They would be at a disadvantage compared to us because of the financial backing that we’ve received. It’s just helped us.
Our family and my wife were the doubters when it came to insurance but she has said herself it is a fantastic thing to be proved wrong about.
Max had the operation for his cochlear implants in April 2018 (just before his first birthday).
We filmed the moment they turned the implants on which was very nerve-wracking but amazing. Max can hear for the first time. The sound level is being increased slowly so he’s not frightened by it. Over time, they will increase the amount of sound he hears so he can eventually hear the birds sing and hear the wind.
What would I say to others? Take the risk to cover the most precious things in your life – your family. Taking into account your own financial situation, weigh up what’s precious to you in your life and make sure you get the right cover.
Alex always considered himself a fit and healthy person who led an active and busy life, working 60 hours a week as a self-employed field agent. He was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in June 2017 at the age of 66, and wanted to offer his advice to those thinking about taking out insurance.
“I felt perfectly well. One morning I went to the toilet and there was blood in the bowl. I went to see my GP who sent a sample off, which came back negative, which is common. My GP decided I should still see a specialist who proceeded to carry out a colonoscopy and it was then that they found the tumour. I knew it was bad when the nurse started crying. The diagnosis was told there and then, that I had cancer.”
“I was surprised as I hadn’t felt ill. I saw a consultant who told me what was being planned – a four month course of chemotherapy followed by a procedure which would remove a bit of my bowel.”
“I carried on working as much as possible during the treatment as it gives you something to do but there are times when you really can’t work. I had regular hospital visits with treatment and drugs – I never knew how I was going to feel. I could be fine one minute and the next couldn’t face anything. It’s really horrible. One thing that made me feel really ill was the chemotherapy; now that I would not wish upon anyone. I cannot describe what that does to you. On one occasion I had to come home in an ambulance as I couldn’t walk and my vision was blurred. You just feel rotten.”
“I remember sitting in the hospital reception thinking ‘I’m going to die, I’m just going to die here’”.
Alex waited until just before his surgery before contacting us regarding his critical illness claim.
“It became clear to me that whatever happened, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to work again as I was going to have to wear a colostomy bag. It would be very difficult to do what I did with a colostomy bag due to the nature of the job. So that was when I decided to claim.
Alex was amazed at how easy the claims process was. “You usually feel like you are just a number but I was surprised when I rang up and was able to speak to someone who knew what they were talking about. They explained clearly from outset what would happen and what would be required, the person I spoke to was great. I was particularly pleased that the payment went through so easily. I was very pleased with the whole process.”
Alex also claimed on our unique claims support fund which can pay up to £300 for a variety of out of pocket expenses as a result of illness or a family members death.
“Small things like that make a huge difference. I wasn’t allowed to drive after my operation so I had to get a taxi to the hospital. £10 there and £10 back. My wife coming to visit me was also £10 there and £10 back. This amount adds up. So the support fund was enormously useful to cover those costs.”
“My intention was to work until I was 70 and then retire, but due to the surgery I had to stop work earlier than I intended. This payment has aided me financially and that’s putting it mildly. Being self-employed and having not been able to work to full capacity since June 2017, means no money. There are other things too, things people don’t think about – contracts for TV, mobile phones, broadband, monthly outgoings and so on. All those things you don’t think about. For your income to fall or suddenly stop due to being ill, it can be very very difficult.”
“Anybody who is thinking about getting critical illness cover or looking for excuses not to do it – speaking to me for 15 minutes will change their mind, because it does make a difference. I wish I was 30 years younger with a mission to change attitudes towards insurance.”
For Alex, the surgery he underwent
was successful and they managed to remove all of the tumour with the cancer not spreading any further and he is doing well.
Steve was on holiday with his wife when a brief episode of breathlessness and chest pain caught him unawares. It passed in minutes, so it was dismissed as nothing more than a bit of mild heartburn. The last thing Steve expected was to be undergoing a life-saving quadruple bypass only weeks later.
“We took Life and Critical Illness cover out when we got our mortgage. It wasn’t really an option not to. We thought if something happened to one of us and we couldn’t work, it could result in us having to sell the house.
For us, it wasn’t just about Life Cover. If something happened and we couldn’t work there is no way we could have paid the mortgage. It’s the safety net we needed at the time.”
During the Christmas break last year we had a holiday, just a short break to a place called Clovelly on the North Devon Coast.
It’s a little town with no roads – it just goes straight down to the sea, so we would walk down through the houses to the beach and walk back up. One morning we were doing our usual walk to the beach. On the way back up to the hotel, I literally stopped and couldn’t make it any further. I thought it was indigestion or heartburn - so I took a break for 5 minutes and then carried on as normal back to the hotel.
Nothing else happened, but I felt concerned about it - I was diagnosed with early stage Type 2 diabetes in November and I thought it could be the result of the medication.
So, when we got home, I went to see my GP - that was the start of some check-ups. They ruled out a problem from the diabetes, but suspected it to be mild angina. I was referred to the chest pain clinic and underwent yet more tests.
The final test was an angiogram. The clinician who undertook the scan told my wife he had to go out for a moment. He came back an hour later with a heart surgeon. I was told that in no uncertain terms was I to leave the hospital. I was a time bomb. I hadn’t had any other signs of illness other that the episode on holiday, so I wasn’t expecting anything like this to happen. It was a big shock to the system.
Its worth noting that whilst all this was going on, the Beast from the East storm had hit the UK. The team needed for the surgery were unable to get there due to the weather so I waited in the hospital for 2 days before having the surgery – a quadruple bypass.
That was a really hard time – they made it clear it wasn’t safe to leave the hospital. I had to keep calm. Very much easier said than done. It felt like a breakdown of my character, a very difficult and uneasy 2 days.
I stayed in hospital for 6 days after the surgery - recovery really is hard work. I had to work hard just to get ready to go home. Then when you finally make it home you still have such a long way to go. I had to be shown how to get up from chairs and out of bed. I bent down to stroke the dog and couldn’t get back up again. The surgery causes such pressure on the chest area that it effects all your movement, even your arms. These are the sort of things they don’t tell you about.
The second week after I came home, my wife and I started talking about the financial implications of the situation. My employers were brilliant - they are paying me 85% of my basic wage - which really is great, it helps. However, life still goes on and the same bills need to be paid. It was clear that after 3 months we would steadily be worse and worse off and it would be a struggle.
My wife was unable to work full time as I needed looking after – I couldn’t be left alone with that much medication, the side effects meant that I barely knew what time of day it was. She wanted to protect me from dealing with all the reality of it all and made me concentrate on my recovery. So, I gave permission for her to deal with everything.
First call was to our mortgage provider to see if we will be able to get some help with the premiums for the life insurance for those 3 months. They agreed but made it clear that yes they could decrease the premiums until I go back to work but this could have an effect on my credit rating. It was the last thing we wanted to hear at the time.
One of the advisers at the mortgage company then asked if we had Critical Illness cover. We realised we did and we called AIG Life.
From the beginning, the process was very straightforward – we dealt with same person for every discussion and there was very little fuss – the process seemingly went on in the background and we never had to deal with anything ourselves.
The most important thing for me at the time was not to have to deal with lots of paperwork. I gave permission for my wife to speak on my behalf - even that process was simple. Some of the other companies we dealt with made it very hard for my wife to be given authority on my accounts. Just having that taken care off so easily was such a relief.
From the start it was clear that you knew that this wasn’t a time that I needed to be dealing with things like this. It’s about understanding the situation. It’s a human situation. Of all the things we had to deal with at the time, this one thing was by far the most painless to do. Which is amazing, as it genuinely made the biggest difference to us.
Since the claim was paid it's honestly changed everything. Without it, I would have probably needed to be back at work a lot earlier than I should be, but we wouldn’t have had a choice. The best thing is I don’t have to rush now. I can take more time to recover and when I do go back to work, I have the ability to take it easier. Working less hours and not taking on any additional stress. I used to have to work out of hours, but I no longer have to do that.
It’s so important to make sure that I fully recover before going back to work - I don’t want to go back to what caused this to happen to me in the first place. When it comes to Critical Illness, you cant not have this type of cover.
I have spoken to my daughter and son in law who are buying a house for the first time and made it clear that its an absolute necessity. If anything does happen having this payout it alleviates the obstacles and creates so many options. There is a strong chance that without this payment, we may have had to sell our house, which doesn’t bare thinking about.
There is one memory that does stick with me - we have a garden swing in our garden and I was sitting on there with my dog, looking at all the gardening I had to catch up on.
My wife suddenly came running out of the house towards me with tears in her eyes – “whats the matter”?
“Well for once - it cant be me” I thought..
“AIG have just called. They’ve accepted the claim and the money is going into our account.- we can pay the mortgage. We don’t have to worry.”
Make sure you add that to my story, that was a good day.
Here are some websites and documents which you and your client may find helpful when going through the claims process.
Practical and financial help
Arranging a funeral
Paying for a funeral
Money Advice Service
Talking to someone
Talk to the Samaritans
Help for cancer sufferers
Support with a terminal illness
Support following bereavement