Insurance: Policyholders facing premium hike in Norwich Union review

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Thousands of Norwich Union (NU) customers could face higher insurance premiums if a pilot scheme is rolled out across the UK.

In an unusual move for the industry, the insurer is to write to 5,000 customers asking them to review their applications and verify that they haven't omitted any illnesses or ailments that could affect claims on a critical illness or life insurance policy.

"Non-disclosure" - failure to give as much relevant information as possible on the original application form - is responsible for one in five claims being turned down, says the Association of British Insurers.

Omissions or mistakes can invalidate customer claims and cause huge financial difficulties at a time of personal upheaval.

By asking customers to double-check their policies, as well as review the amount of alcohol they consume and any drugs taken, NU hopes to discover if such an approach can pre-empt future problems.

But if policyholders disclose something - a family history of heart trouble, say - that may affect their risk, premiums could be increased.

"We want to advise people who think they may have [failed to disclose information] how to proceed," said Willie Mowatt, director of risk products at NU.

Research from consumer body Which? recently highlighted how consumers could easily struggle with critical illness and life application forms because of unclear definitions of illnesses.

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