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Hayley's Story: 'Knowing I'm still covered, even after claiming twice, has made all the difference

Published: 25/01/2024

With people more likely to survive a serious illness than ever, the need for cover to remain in place after a claim has never been more important. As Hayley Morris found out first hand.

As a young mother, it was a no-brainer for Hayley to take out the most comprehensive protection insurance she could get for her and her family.

However, in her mid-30s she never expected she’d actually need to make a claim on her Serious Illness Cover, let alone twice.

“I ended up having to write letters, which is never something that you want to do as a parent” - Hayley Morris

After waking up one morning with “horrific” breathing difficulties in 2021, Hayley was rushed to A&E and diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot in her lungs.

Over 50,000 people are hospitalised each year in the UK with a pulmonary embolism and, alongside deep vein thrombosis, it is the third most common cardiovascular disease1.

As Vitality is the only insurer to cover this condition, Hayley’s plan paid out and meant she could “relax a little bit” financially.

Pulmonary embolism is also one of the most commonly claimed conditions unique to Vitality’s Serious Illness Cover. In 2022, it was one of the one in eight claims not covered by a typical enhanced critical illness plan2.

“It made me question my mortality quite a bit”

For Hayley, going through this experience in her mid-30s was particularly significant.

“Turning 36 for me was quite a big thing because my mum died when she was 36. And the year I turned 36 was when I had my blood clot. Which made me question my mortality quite a bit.”

Little did Hayley expect that just two years later, she’d go through it all again and need to call upon her Serious Illness Cover for a second time.


“I need you to get straight to hospital…You’re going to be there a while”

After experiencing one illness, our own claims experience tells us that many people go on to suffer further medical conditions and that therefore it’s crucial cover doesn’t simply finish after paying a claim.

In Hayley’s case, she began experiencing muscle weakness and, after undergoing various tests, was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, a rare and chronic autoimmune disease. She was rushed to hospital to undergo immediate treatment.

As part of these investigations and treatment, Hayley then found out she had a thymoma, a type of cancer commonly linked to myasthenia gravis. Major, and potentially risky surgery would be required to remove the tumour and, at this point, Hayley had to begin preparing for the worst.

"We had to prepare for the fact I might not make it through,” she tells us. “I ended up having to write letters, which is never something that you want to do as a parent. I wanted to make sure that Bella knows everything a mum would want her daughter to know if I don’t make it through.”

Whilst no insurance pay-out can take away from the emotional impact of being diagnosed with a serious medical condition, it can at least ensure there’s one less thing to worry about at an already extremely difficult time.

“That [cancer diagnosis] enabled me to make a second claim on the Vitality Serious Illness Cover and paid out in full. It’s given us the ability to go ‘right, we really have some breathing space now’.”

With 1 in 12 Serious Illness Cover claims in 2022 paid to members that had previously claimed and over £3m paid in secondary claims2. Hayley’s story highlights the importance of continuous cover and the ability to claim multiple times.

“From a cover perspective, it’s done wonders for us”

It’s about more than just enabling people to claim multiple times though. Perhaps most significantly in Hayley’s case, her Serious Illness Cover plan continues to cover her and her partner, where other plans would have left her uninsured and uninsurable.

“Although the policy paid out [in full], David still has cover and I still have cover if it comes back, or I get anything else.

“It’s hugely helped knowing that I had the cover and knew that Bella could still have money when she wants to get married and buy her own house.”

We know that a significant protection gap persists in the UK and that despite the progress the industry has made, millions of individuals and families still do not have adequate protection in place. Or, when they do, it can fall short when offering a much-needed financial safety net. 

Hayley’s hopes are that those hearing her story will be spurred into action, to ensure them and their loved ones have the protection she was able to call upon when she needed it the most.

“If everything I’ve gone through can help anybody in some way, then it gives it a silver lining,” she concludes.

“Everyone I speak to, when I tell my story says the same thing, ‘I really need to think about that’. Don’t think about it, just do it, life’s too short.”

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Find out more about how Vitality’s Serious Illness Cover can offer more relevant, comprehensive cover for your clients:

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1 Prevalence | Background information | Pulmonary embolism | CKS | NICE
2 VitalityLife Claims and Benefits Report 2023