In June last year, Michelle Rendle woke in the middle of the night to find her husband, John, 39, having a seizure.

It was a shock to them both — the father of two had never experienced anything like it and was ­otherwise fit; he enjoyed playing golf and football.

The seizure lasted for 15 minutes and John was rushed to Darent Valley ­Hospital in Dartford. He spent a week there, and for the following five months had consultations and MRI scans to ascertain what was wrong.

It was only in November that John found out it was cancer. A biopsy ­confirmed he had a grade two ­astrocytoma — a type of brain tumour.

Michelle Rendle woke in the middle of the night to find her husband, John, 39, having a seizure. They are parents to Oliver, five, and daughter Emilia, three

Michelle Rendle woke in the middle of the night to find her husband, John, 39, having a seizure. They are parents to Oliver, five, and daughter Emilia, three

‘I hadn’t been having headaches,’ says John, who works in IT solutions for a printer and photocopier company. ‘The doctors say it could have been there for years. We had no idea.’

A craniotomy in December to remove more than half of the tumour revealed it had progressed to grade three, which meant it was fast-growing. ‘You don’t expect your husband to have brain cancer out of the blue at such a young age. That’s hard to take,’ Michelle, 37, says.

John has started to work from home. There has been no time frame put on his ­condition but he has been told it is life-shortening.

The couple, who celebrated their eighth wedding anniversary last month, had been smart enough to each take out a critical ­illness and life insurance policy as well as a joint life insurance policy when they first got a mortgage 11 years ago. These would protect the ­remaining partner and the couple’s children, Oliver, five, and Emilia, three, should either become seriously ill or die.

Payout rates for critical illness claims are typically high, with providers ­paying out for 91.6 pc of new claims in 2022 at an average of £66,296, according to the latest available data from the ­Association of British Insurers.

READ MORE: The 15 revolutionary tiny tweaks that can turbocharge your health – from the simple way to lose half a stone to the tricks that slash your risk of cancer

John expected to receive a lump sum of £25,000 from his critical illness cover with Zurich. He hoped to use this to create memories with his wife and children while he was still well enough. He sent his claim to Zurich in ­November after his diagnosis.

But Zurich’s response to the claim four months later left him in shock. It informed him that both his critical illness and life insurance policy and his joint life insurance policy with Michelle would be cancelled and the ­premiums refunded.

That would mean John would receive no critical illness payout and that the couple’s £150,000 mortgage would not be paid off by the joint policy should he die.

The insurer said that this was because there were differences in the information given by John when he applied for the insurance and that given by his GP about his health. It said it would have denied all cover if it was aware of all the information before the policies were issued.

The couple had ­policies in place for more than a decade and had previously been with the insurer Royal London. When their Royal London policy came up for renewal in January last year, they decided to switch to Zurich to get cheaper premiums and a higher assured sum on the life insurance policy.

But in February, John had a dizzy spell. Thinking ­nothing of it, he did not go to the doctor. When Zurich wrote to John to confirm the policies and ask him to notify it of any changes, he didn’t think to mention it.

John had a second dizzy spell at work on May 5 — four days after the policy went live. This time he did go to the doctor — he mentioned this dizzy spell as well as the one in February. The doctor wrote on his notes that he had experienced ‘intermittent’ dizzy spells. John claims he only told the doctor of the two episodes. Blood tests were ordered, which came back normal.

Zurich denied the claim on the grounds John had not disclosed the ‘intermittent’ dizzy episodes.

Since then his GP has written to Zurich to clarify that John had only ‘odd dizzy spells’ — but did not state how many ‘odd’ meant. The GP also said he had no symptoms suggestive of a brain tumour as of that appointment. King’s College Hospital, where John had been referred following the seizure, also wrote to the insurance company to say that dizziness is non-specific, and doesn’t suggest a brain tumour. But Zurich has not reinstated John’s policy — or his and Michelle’s joint one.

John has been receiving treatment for his brain tumour. He’s undergone six weeks of radiotherapy at Maidstone Hospital and last month took his first five-day course of ­chemotherapy, which he has to repeat every month for a year.

John and Michelle, who celebrated their eighth wedding anniversary last month, are one of a small number of young couples with a critical illness and life insurance policy in place

John and Michelle, who celebrated their eighth wedding anniversary last month, are one of a small number of young couples with a critical illness and life insurance policy in place

John also had a third ­surgery on Christmas Day after brain fluid started to leak from his stiches after the craniotomy.

He says: ‘It’s tough. I’ve got two young children and I’m very ­emotional. The insurance issue has just added a weight. I feel like the world is on my shoulders.’

Michelle, a stay-at-home mother who would be left raising two children and paying off a ­substantial mortgage, says: ‘We don’t know how long he’ll be well for.’

John adds: ‘We want to create memories with the children while I’m here, in case it comes to the point where I can’t work.’

Childhood best friend Damien Clarkson has been raising money for the Rendle family via GoFundMe. Some £24,287 has so far been donated.

A Zurich spokesman says: ‘We are really sorry to hear of the very difficult circumstances Mr ­Rendle and his family are experiencing. From the information provided, we know that Mr Rendle was ­having ongoing, intermittent, neurological type symptoms from at least February 2023, and had experienced multiple episodes.

‘Although these incidents occurred after the application was submitted, this should have been disclosed to us prior to the ­application going live. We make it clear to customers in several documents about their obligations to notify us of any changes in health.

‘Had we known about the symptoms, which were subsequently investigated by his GP, we would have postponed cover to allow time for investigations to be ­carried out and to see how the symptoms developed.

‘As a result of Mr Rendle not informing us of these conditions before cover began, unfortunately his claim was denied, and Zurich has refunded the premiums paid over the course of the policy.’

Dean Dunham, the Mail’s ­consumer lawyer, says: ‘I always tell consumers that if an ­insurance provider can wriggle out of a claim it usually will, especially with medical insurance.

‘I strongly advise consumers to take an overly cautions approach and disclose everything, including symptoms suffered and all medical appointments attended, prior to switching or entering into a new medical insurance policy.’

This post first appeared on Dailymail.co.uk

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