UK media campaign hots up against mis-selling of annuities

Published:  14 Oct at 6 PM
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Expat retirees pushed into buying poor-value annuities as part of their relocation strategy may now be able to get compensation due to a campaign by a UK tabloid newspaper.

The good news came as the result of the Daily Mail’s Mail on Sunday ‘Justice for Annuity Victims’ campaign, with the media outlet also urging the UK’s financial watchdog to probe more closely into the annuity market as a whole. Introduced as a result of a lawsuit fining Prudential the sum of 23.9 million sterling, the campaign drew reports from hundreds of pensioners who’d been tricked into purchasing unsuitable annuities. Complaints to insurers by those affected have either been summarily rejected or subject to derisory levels of compensation, even in cases of blatant mis-selling.

The newspaper has now provided a template for a letter to be sent to the two insurers involved – Standard Life and Prudential - urging them to comply with the law and provide adequate compensation, and is also urging the Financial Conduct Agency to conduct an urgent probe of the annuity market, Evidence suggests mis-selling of such products by the industry has been endemic for some 20 years or so.

One major issue is the deliberate failure of insurers’ representatives to inform potential clients of their rights to shop around for the best annuity for their needs rather than just accepting what’s been put forward by their advisor. This is especially relevant for those considering becoming expats once retirement kicks in. The paper believes insurers should be forced to review all past sales going bank to the early 2000s, with proof of mis-selling leading to compensation as well as interest on the amounts lost over the years.

One example involves a widower whose wife was mis-sold an annuity five months before she died of a previously diagnosed heart problem following rheumatic fever as a child. When she was 25 years old, she was fitted with a heart valve and told she should not expect a long life. Just before her 60th birthday she was advised to take out a Prudential annuity once she became 60. The product included a spouse benefit clause, but her poor health wasn’t factored in, resulting in a reduced amount being paid in settlement to her husband.

However, had she been offered the enhanced annuity to which she was entitled, he would have received extra income. This is typical, with her husband believing she had been coerced into taking what was offered. The newspaper’s campaign has uncovered many such examples of deliberate mis-selling and is encouraging those affected to take action.
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