§ Captain De Chair
asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he can give any further information about the practice of insurance companies in meeting claims on policies issued before war became imminent on the lives of those members of the R.A.F. who are killed whilst flying on service?
§ Sir A. Sinclair
I know of no case where a company has failed to meet its legal obligations. The only question is whether, and to what extent, the companies are willing to make payments which go beyond their strict obligations. Every company is, of course, free to determine its own policy, but the following statement represents the general practice of the companies so far as I have been able to ascertain it:
- (a) Men who in peace-time were ordinary civilians and not subject to any special hazards have, in general, been getting full war cover. This is true even though they have subsequently joined the Royal Air Force for flying-duties and even though their policies, in terms, exonerated the company from war risk or aviation risk. This concession applies to the general run of life assurance policies but does not necessarily apply to certain special types of policies, e.g. where a very large sum is assured on a single life.
- (b) Those who even in peace-time were subject to special risk (e.g. Service men and persons whose profession or hobby was flying) are only given full cover if their policies so provide; and no concession is made to anybody in this class who, with his eyes open, elected to take a cheaper policy which excluded war risk or aviation risk, or both. In special circumstances, some of the companies are, however, willing to make ex gratia payments usually amounting to less than the full sum assured. I am informed that the same general principles are applied by the companies to members of all three Fighting Services. The companies feel that the arrangements which they have made for dealing with these difficult cases are as generous as they can be without being unfair to the general body of their policy-holders and that it would not be reasonable to ask them to do more.