I have a Permanent Health Insurance policy (PHI) which I took out in 1992. These types of insurances provide you with an income should you be unable to work due to ill-health and mine has been paying out for many years. Thank God for it, because if I’d had to survive on state benefits when I became ill I would have lost my home (if you rent a house in the UK you get housing benefit, if you have a ginormous mortgage you get diddly shit). My policy ends at 60 when I was supposed to retire and receive the State Pension.
However, in 2011 the Government changed the retirement age for women in the UK from 60 to 67, which has massively impacted my finances. My insurers have refused to extend my PHI to the new retirement age and I wrote about how it’s affected me in this blog post and this one. The change in the retirement age discriminates against me as a disabled woman and I’ve been trying for 6 years now to get someone to take on my case. No-one has helped. Not my MP, not HM Treasury, not the Equality Advisory Service, not the Disabled Law Society, not the Financial Conduct Authority nor the Financial Ombudsman or any of the ten specialist Solicitors I’ve approached. They all agree I’m being discriminated against but there is a clause in the Equality Act which excludes existing insurance policies, which basically means I can be treated differently to everyone else in the country and it is lawful.
The unfairness of this has, at times, driven me demented. Either Equality Laws apply to everyone or they don’t. You can’t cherry pick who can be discriminated against and who can’t. Just because I took out my policy pre-2011 shouldn’t mean it’s OK to treat me differently to healthy people, or differently to disabled men whose PHI policies already extended to 65. I now face seven years in my sixties where I will have to survive off £100 per week Employment & Support Allowance, which barely pays my Tesco grocery bill let alone my gas, electric, council tax, house, car and mobility scooter insurance & breakdown cover, TV licence, petrol (no buses where I live and it’s not like I can bike the 60 miles for my Hospital appointments!), water rates, internet (without which I couldn’t physically survive as I live 7 miles from my nearest shop so get everything online, even my prescriptions) or the help I need, eg. someone to clean my house. If I don’t get the law changed I will face several years of abject poverty.
My very, very last hope was to contact the Human Rights organization Liberty. They specialize in unlawful killings, torture, deportation and other more pressing issues than mine and I didn’t think for a million years they’d be interested in disability or sex discrimination, so I literally wept yesterday when they said they might fight my corner for me. They are, apparently, already dealing with a pension age discrimination case and mine would tie in with that. So I’ve had to send them all my details and then play the waiting game to see if they will help. Please God may they help, because I’ve no-one else to turn to.
They are interested in hearing from anyone else in the same position as me, so if you live in the UK and are claiming on a PHI policy which still ends at 60 please let me know via the comments and I’ll email you.