In response to some earlier blogs, Alan Higham has made this comment on a Pension Play Pen discussion thread.
Alan regularly features in my thinking as does Andy Young (of the “Young report” below). Both are actuaries who have translated good ideas into action. Andy ended up providing one part of the safety net for defined benefit schemes (the Pension Protection Fund) while Alan was influential in establishing the other part (the Financial Assistance Scheme).
If we are to get a national register of pension assets we should listen to the good counsel of people such as these.
In 2007 I sat on the advisory body to the Young Review which looked at using pension scheme assets to fund the Financial Assistance Scheme. We touched on the unclaimed assets. Looking on the unclaimed asset register https://www.uar.co.uk/ there is around £15bn of unclaimed assets in the UK of which £400m is unpaid pension and life assurance money.
My Dad had a policy taken out for him in 1964 by his employer with The London Assurance Company. He had a copy of the original policy documents. It was due to mature in 2002. Despite working in the same place between 1964 and 2002, nobody from the insurance company wrote to him to say your policy has matured. Dad gave his folders full of insurance/pension papers to me in 2007 when he was approaching age 65. I found that London Assurance had been taken over by various companies and was now part of Resolution, now called Phoenix.
Resolution/Phoenix ignored three letters I sent them. I made lots of telephone calls. Eventually, in 2011, I received a reply that said the policy was with the London Assurance Company not Phoenix and I needed to contact the London Assurance Company!! I made a formal complaint which resulted in Phoenix accepting the fact that they did own the London Assurance company and that my Dad’s policy was worth nearly £10,000 including interest for late payment. After a prolonged period of paperwork to validate my Dad’s identity and address, they eventually paid him just before Christmas.
My view is that the insurance company does have a duty to make some reasonable efforts to contact policyholders to pay out on these policies. A central register should exist and can be built on the UAR. Its costs should come out of the general admin fee one pays to set up a policy.
- Who pays for a register of pensions? (henrytapper.com)
- Bill Whitehead’s drawers (henrytapper.com)
- Search “my pensions”! (henrytapper.com)