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Highland mum battling multiple sclerosis (MS) vows to fight on over insurance payout refusal

By Philip Murray

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Jade Taylor is hoping her stem cell treatment will halt or even reverse her MS.
Jade Taylor is hoping her stem cell treatment will halt or even reverse her MS.

A MUM battling multiple sclerosis who hoped to use an insurance payout to help fund life-changing treatment that could halt or even reverse her illness – only for her provider to deem her policy invalid – has vowed to fight the decision.

Jade Taylor, from Culloden, was left stunned when Zurich refused to pay her £130,000 after ruling she had failed to disclose her MS symptoms when taking the policy out – a full year before she was even aware she had any.

A subsequent appeal to Zurich and the Financial Ombudsman to overturn that decision was unsuccessful, with the latter arguing in its ruling that, although Jade and her doctors had provided information showing she was not suspected of having MS until many months after the policy began, she had failed to disclose symptoms which she had at the time which can potentially be the result of MS.

She has vowed to fight on and is consulting a solicitor, arguing that the symptoms she had at the time of the policy – numbness in her skin – was linked at the time by her and her doctors to scar tissue caused by the removal of excess skin on her legs after she shed 10.5 stone in weight.

“Part of having the surgery is that [the numbness] can happen. I never complained about it, never went to the doctor about it,” she said. “Like my surgeon said, ‘it’ll eventually disappear, it’ll be fine’. He was monitoring it.

“And it did, I just had the numbness over the scars, over the incision. Everyone who has had surgery knows that a scar is numb so they’re trying to say to me that I have this neurological condition that’s over a year before I applied for the policy – but it’s not true.

“My argument is that they asked if I had any numbness in the limb and I said ‘no’ and I answered it properly. But they say I should have answered it ‘yes’ because the skin is part of my limb, and I say it’s not, it’s an organ.

“I answered it properly and then they’ve just literally pulled me through the mill the past two, two-and-a-half years which has had a really bad and detrimental effect on my health.”

Zurich argues her policy was void because she should have disclosed that, as numbness in the limbs is a possible symptom of MS, even though Jade insists the numbness was only in the scar tissue and that the particularly aggressive form of MS she has struck so swiftly that she had no reason to believe the numbness was anything other than the expected after-effects of surgery that the doctors had told her about.

Jade Taylor with her son Kaiden and daughter Jiah.
Jade Taylor with her son Kaiden and daughter Jiah.

She added that her insurer insists that she should have declared it anyway, as the mention of numbness would have triggered a halt to her policy application pending further tests/details first.

Related: WATCH: Kaiden Taylor’s king of the swingers – for mum Jade Taylor who has an aggressive and rare form of crippling MS

But she has hit back, claiming Zurich was looking for excuses not to honour the policy, and that her doctors did not suspect she might have MS until months after she applied for her policy.

And she questioned Zurich’s decision to refund her premiums if, as they argue, she failed to declare pertinent medical information during her application.

“The big thing is, why give me a goodwill gesture, and why cancel my policy and refund all my premiums if I’m in the wrong?” she said. “They’re definitely hiding something. If they’ve refunded all those premiums, there’s definitely something in it.”

She hopes the publicity will increase pressure for Zurich to rethink its stance, and also added that she’s not alone in feeling insurers are moving the goalposts on customers.

“A load of people have been contacting me saying they’ve been having the same thing from their insurance, which is interesting,” she continued. “[There were] loads of people with MS. One lassie had migraines [before her diagnosis] and they declined her because they said the migraines were caused by MS.

“It’s just crazy. It’s starting to really open up a can of worms.”

In the meantime, she is putting efforts into trying to raise the remaining £17,000 she needs to fund her potentially life-changing stem cell treatment in Mexico – but only has six weeks in which to secure it before her scheduled September operation date is forced back or cancelled.

“I’m at £38,900 now but I’ve got to get to £56,000,” she said. “I’ve got like six weeks to hopefully find that money.”

And she’s hopeful the stem cell treatment, which works to ‘reboot’ the immune system, will help to halt or at the very least slow the disease’s progress.

“There’s people who have had the exact same treatment as me and they’ve gone over pretty much in a wheelchair and are walking a year later.

“So they’ve a 76 per cent chance of halting MS, and there’s obviously a small chance that they could reverse some of the MS as well.”

To help fund Jade’s treatment, visit her GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/f/hsct-treatment-in-mexico-to-stop-my-ms.

Responding to Jade’s complaints in a public statement, Zurich said: “Insurers rely on customers to answer questions about their health accurately when taking out a policy. It’s these answers that determine whether or not an insurer can provide cover, and at what price that cover is set.”

They added that Ms Taylor had been “experiencing neurological symptoms for some time” prior to her policy.

They continued: “As these symptoms were present for approximately seven months before Ms Taylor first spoke to her financial adviser about taking out cover with Zurich, and a year before the policies went live, the cover she received did not accurately reflect her health at the time of application.

“Had Ms Taylor disclosed these symptoms at the time, Zurich would have postponed her application, pending a full investigation, and her applications would have been declined at the point of an MS diagnosis.

“As cover was issued on the basis of inaccurate information, Zurich declined her claims.”

The Financial Ombudsman, agreed with Zurich’s stance. It ruled: “Ms Taylor has provided additional evidence, both from her GP and her consultant neurologist, clarifying their comments and opinions. But this additional evidence doesn’t change the fact that Ms Taylor was experiencing notable symptoms prior to taking out the policies.”

They concluded: “The issue is not whether the root cause of those symptoms was MS, but rather that, whatever the underlying cause, the symptoms were not disclosed to Zurich.”

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