HC Deb 24 July 1935 vol 304 cc1837-8

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has beers drawn to the judge's remarks in a case at the recent assizes in Birmingham, in which a widow unsuccessfully claimed from the Co-operative Insurance Society, Manchester, under a policy of endowment insurance; and whether, in view of the fact that the judge expressed the opinion that the proposal forms of some insurance companies are traps, he will consider the advisability of taking action to protect the public by preventing insurance companies repudiating policies?


My attention has been called to a newspaper report of the case to which my hon. Friend refers. The Assurance Companies Act, 1909, does not give the Board of Trade power to intervene in the matter of a contract between a policy holder and an insurance company regarding the terms of a policy.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that when the deceased person signed his proposal he held himself to be free from disease on the 13th June, 1934, whereas he was in attendance on the doctor before and after that date for a trouble which was diagnosed by a specialist on the 13th August as cancer? Is the right hon. Gentleman further aware that the judge stated: I make it quite clear that in view of the death taking place so soon after the insurance there is full reason why the policy should be repudiated"?


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the judge in this case expressed the wish that Parliament should take this matter up?


No, Sir, I am not aware of the personal opinion of the judge. With regard to the individual case, the Board of Trade obviously cannot intervene in the merits of a dispute between a policy holder and the insurance company.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in general insurance companies do not refuse to insure poor people who may die within a short time, and that this inflicts great hardship? If insurance companies accept a life, ought they not to accept the risk in the ordinary way?