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Nigel’s Story: ‘I’m not a gambler... so why would I take a risk with my cover?’

Published: 08/12/2022

Like any of us, when taking out Life and Serious Illness Cover, protection adviser Nigel never expected he’d have to claim on it. However, when he caught a rare and serious condition, his comprehensive Serious Illness Cover provided essential financial security1 and continues to cover him, even after claiming.

My name is Nigel, I am a 52 and run my own Consultancy company, which includes giving regulated advice on Personal and Business Protection.

I have been a very strong advocate of Vitality Health and Life, particularly as their shared value philosophy around health and wellbeing has always resonated with me. Despite leading a healthy lifestyle and like any of us, hoping I’d never have to claim on insurance, as a single parent my priorities are firstly towards my son and our collective financial security.

Maybe lady luck was looking over me, or maybe I just received the best guidance and training from others, but either way, I am very lucky and would like to share my story.

Close to passing away

Having returned from Riga in Latvia, where I had just completed my 17th marathon, I started to struggle to breathe. At first, I was told by the doctor it was probably a chest infection and I was given a course of antibiotics. However, three days later I was rushed into A&E and intensive care, where I was placed into an induced coma and put on a ventilator. I was diagnosed with Legionnaires Disease, a severe form of pneumonia that can be deadly, especially for those who are over 50 and not in good health. I was 49 at the time.

As this was such a serious and unusual diagnosis, the UK Government Health Department were made aware of my condition via the hospital, as were the Latvian counterparts. 

I did not respond to treatment initially and was close to passing away due to lung and potential heart failure. I remained in the induced coma for nine days in the intensive care unit and was then moved to the high dependency unit. 

Luckily, I survived. The doctor told me this was only because I was fit and healthy at the time of contracting the illness.

Possibility of permanent disability 

Unfortunately, once I was clear of the legionella my onward condition wasn’t good. I had lost many of my natural motor skills and whilst these returned over time, the biggest impact was that I had suffered ‘drop foot’, meaning I was unable to lift the front part of my right foot. Drop foot is not a disease, rather a sign of an underlying neurological, muscular, or anatomical problem.

I was assessed by a neurologist to ascertain whether I had suffered a stroke or heart attack whilst in the induced coma and afterwards underwent many further tests. During this time, I experienced much anguish, and was even told that it was highly likely that I would be permanently disabled and unable to walk properly again.

However, after visiting a wonderfully committed neurologist who performed nerve conduction studies (electrical impulse), she established that I had suffered peroneal nerve damage, and with time it would repair and eventually I would be mobile again.  

Thankfully, in 2016 I had taken out extensive protection with Vitality. 

Unique and comprehensive cover provided by SIC

My policy covered me for £100,000 life and £100,000 Serious Illness Cover (SIC), both index-linked, and I also opted for Protected Cover options on both plans. I’m not a gambler, so I would not take a risk with my cover? The key difference between SIC and more traditional critical illness plans is that it covers more conditions and provides broader coverage, and allows for multiple claims because of the severity-based approach.

My claim ended up being paid under the definition ‘intensive care for 10 continuous days duration’, which is not widely covered by traditional critical illness plans. 

Within two days of my claim being approved I received my payment of £53,648. Which was 50% of the sum-assured because of the severity-based payment, but slightly higher as I’d chosen to include indexation. This gave me enormous peace of mind, especially during the period where my mobility was in question, and I was undertaking the extensive tests. 

Continued cover despite the claim

Furthermore, taking out Protected Cover, which is unique to Vitality, means that the pay-out I received from Vitality has not impacted the sum assured on either of my plans. I am still able to make two more additional SIC claims if I need to without them impacting my Life Cover. 

As of today, I’m still covered for £127,802 for the Life and £127,802 for Serious Illness Cover, despite having claimed already and which continues to increase because I’d opted for index-linked cover.  

I truly hope I never need to use this again, but it gives me huge piece of mind knowing I’m still protected. 

Now running marathons again

The treatment I received from the NHS was incredible, there are no number of superlatives which will summarise how committed and dedicated the doctors, nurses and consultants were. And, having chosen the best protection provider in the industry, I am able to rest assured that my financial circumstances were secured, whilst I focussed on the health and recovery.  

I am delighted to report that my mobility did fully return and a lot quicker than first expected. So much so that on 1 March 2020, only 10 months after my illness, I ran a marathon in Valetta, the capital city of Malta, in just under 5 hours. I have since completed a marathon Madrid and I am booked into the Athens marathon later this year.

I have been told that I was just very unlucky to experience my journey. I couldn’t control that luck, and as the pandemic showed, lives were lost indiscriminately through identical circumstances to mine. Did my health and wellness save my life? Yes, it is the only reason I can write these words, but my choice in personal protection through Vitality also helped. It gave me financial security, which gave me time to recuperate from a major trauma, but more importantly, it took away any stress and contributed to my eventual recovery.

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