MILLIONS of people could have forgotten life insurance policies worth up to £500 – here’s how to check if you’ve got one.
These so-called “penny” insurance or “industrial branch” policies as they were known, were typically sold door-to-door by agents or in branches.
Cover sold included life insurance, savings, and endowment policies.
These were often designed to pay out after 50 to 60 years of customers paying their premiums to help with retirement, funeral or care costs – or they were paid to a relative on death.
Insurer LV= revealed in September that 1.1million of these policies, which were sold between the 1920s and 1960s under its former Liverpool Victoria Friendly Society brand name, had been lost.
But they’re now worth up to £500.
How to find out if you had a penny insurance policy
IF you think you had a penny insurance policy or that a relative may have had one – have a look through old paperwork for the documents.
You can also contact the insurers listed in this article using the following details:
- Phoenix Life (Britannic Assurance, Pearl Assurance and Swiss Life)
- Royal London (Refuge Assurance, Royal Liver, and United Friendly)
If you’re still struggling you can also check the Unclaimed Assets Register, although this does cost £25. The Register lists which companies are members to give you an idea before you pay the fee for a search.
And research by The Sun has found that that LV= isn’t the only provider to have sold such policies.
The problem is that as these policies are so old and were set up with paper documents, and because no premiums have been paid by customers for many years, insurers have lost touch with policyholders.
Royal London says a whopping half a million users had this cover but it’s only been able to trace 36,000 owners to date, reuniting them with a combined £14million.
This means there are 464,000 lost policies out there and Royal London says these are now worth an average of £330 each.
As well as selling Royal London policies, the insurer now owns Refuge Assurance, Royal Liver, and United Friendly which all sold penny policies too.
Jon Glen, group operations director for Royal London, said: “We encourage anyone who thinks they may have had a policy with Royal London, or any of the historical brands we have acquired over the years, to get in touch with us.”
Fellow insurer Aviva says it believes it has around 1,000 lost penny policies out there worth an average of £500.
It says that unlike other insurers, it didn’t sell many of these policies to begin with and often where it did, it changed payments from door-to-door collections to bank payments.
Phoenix Life says it sold these policies between 1839 and 1997 under the brands Britannic Assurance, Pearl Assurance, and Swiss Life – which it now owns.
It says policies are now worth anything from £7 to £37 although it couldn’t tell us how many lost policies are likely to be out there.
Who needs life insurance?
LIFE insurance isn't for everyone, so make sure you really need it before you buy it.
Life insurance is all about leaving money behind for other people, so if you don’t want to leave any money behind then life insurance isn’t for you.
For instance, single people or people without children probably won’t need life insurance unless they want to pay out money to a family member on death.
If you do have a partner or children, you should probably consider whether it would be a struggle for them to pay for basic costs, such as bills and rent, if you weren’t around.
If the answer is yes, you should consider getting life insurance.
If you or your partner claim any income based benefits, you should first check whether getting a life insurance payment could affect the benefits you receive.
Roshani Hewa, head of protection and health at the Association of British Insurers, said: “If you have children or other dependents, it’s important to think about their financial security when you pass away.
“Life insurance can protect your loved ones from financial hardship and provide essential security.
“If you’re considering this type of insurance, it’s important that you get independent financial advice on your needs and options.”
Prudential says it sold penny policies between 1854 and 1994 although it couldn’t tell us how many are lost or how much they’re now worth.
Insurers the Direct Line Group, Legal & General, Scottish Widows, and Standard Life all told The Sun they never sold these policies.
But if you think you’ve got one or you think an older relative may have, contact your insurer now or check the Unclaimed Assets Register – we provide the contact details in the box out above.
More on money
We spoke to a furious 17-stone woman who was told “she’s too heavy to get life insurance”.
Here’s what life insurance is, how it works, and whether you need it when you become a parent.
Meanwhile, boiler insurance has been branded as “worthless” as customers have been left without heating or hot water.
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