Scottish Widows service meltdown

Jessica Beard at The Daily Mail’s “This is Money” website has uncovered a deplorable breakdown in claims management at Scottish Widows.

  • Families waiting months for money they are entitled to after a loved one’s death 
  • Many have faced hour-long call wait times trying to talk to the right person 
  • In some of the worst cases, it has taken almost a year for the money to arrive 

The breakdown is the worse as it seems to be impacting widows who live in Scotland. One widow has been waiting for money to be paid after the death of her spouse asked if she needed to wear a hood to get some attention.

The problem’s at scale.  Donald MacKechnie, Scottish Widows chief operating officer, told This is Money that  up to 6,000 families have been caught up in a backlog of complaints, with many waiting to access their cash.

You can’t manage bereavement online

Beard hits the nail on the head in a comment on the current situation

Readers have told us of struggles to claim money after the death of a loved one. Many have been in tears on the phone. Quite how Scottish Widows’ bereavement teams could treat them so coldly, I cannot fathom.

Companies are desperately pushing us online but that’s no excuse for forgetting how important it is to provide a human touch when it’s needed most.

Terse call handlers and thoughtless letters have rubbed salt into the wounds inflicted by lengthy call wait times and delays of up to nine months to receive insurance and pension payouts.

It’s taken weeks of requests from Money Mail for Scottish Widows to put forward a senior executive to explain what has gone wrong.

Finally, Donald MacKechnie spoke to me and did cough up an apology. He sounded genuinely sorry. And quite right, too

One for the IGC

Some of these claims are pension claims and the Scottish Widows Independent Governance Committee needs to be involved. It is they who should be the Scottish Widows Complaint Platform – rather than the 400 member social media group managed by Mark Radin.

The IGC has a new Chair and by coincidence we met on the day after the Money Mail story broke. It was not on our agenda and I have no idea if Anna Bradley – a veteran consumer champion , was aware either of the articles on Money Mail or of the underlying problem. The IGC Committee is loaded with people who give a damn.

So I am quite sure that the IGC should be on top of this and ensuring that Scottish Widows puts right a “red” in its quality of service VFM assessment for 2022.

Ironically we spoke about the efforts that Scottish Widows and parent Lloyds Bank are putting into engaging with customers to improve awareness and contribution rates to personal pensions. There is such a thing as negative engagement – aka “disengagement” which is what savers do when they find that the pensioners they are saving for, don’t get their money on time.


About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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2 Responses to Scottish Widows service meltdown

  1. Mark Meldon says:

    Henry, this isn’t just a problem with Scottish Widows. Aviva has had appalling service on new annuity business of late. We had two cases ‘stuck’ since 31 October, payments made by end November, cases only issued last week.

  2. Henry heskeh tapper says:

    All insurers have issues- I am interested in how they deal with these things

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