'My accident cover premiums were increased by 4 per cent'

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The Independent Culture
Elspeth Ferguson, aged 25, is an apprentice community worker in Edinburgh. She was born with a mild disability.

"Sink or swim: I've learned that disabled people face this simple choice. Society labels disabled people as being abnormal. We have to keep challenging this. Do I have a complaint about the attitude of insurance companies?

"I recently took a mortgage with the Dunfermaline Building Society. That was no problem, as I come from a small town and know the local manager. Also, unlike so very many disabled people, I'm in regular employment. But I was advised to take an 'accident, sickness and unemployment' policy to cover the mortgage if I became unable to work.

"I applied to General Accident and was initially told no medical would be required. Then I received a letter asking me to go for a medical examination before a decision could be reached. The doctor who examined me warned that although I was in very good health, I might still be declined.

"This upset me. Despite the fact that my life expectancy is normal, my premiums were increased by 4 per cent. This may not sound like a lot, but there is a principle at stake. Was I surprised? Not at all, but then nothing really does surprise me any more. I also know of other cases where disabled people have had difficulties with various types of insurance but will not come forward to speak about it. Often, they accept whatever they are offered, or are put off by a first rejection."

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