ASK TONY: I had Â£ 41,000 of old life insurance policies that even a lawyer couldn’t find
My 64 year old husband passed away in February 2020. He had three life insurance policies which are now with ReAssure, but I was told he could not locate them. I have appointed a lawyer but, due to the cost, I am now trying to resolve the issues myself.
I wrote to ReAssure three times and used their online portal. He doesn’t respond or tells me he can’t locate the policies.
Tony Hazell replies: One of the policies held by your late husband was from Royal Exchange Assurance, dating from 1961, and two from Atlas Insurance, from 1963.
Reader was unable to locate her husband’s life policies after his death
You had already done a considerable amount of work tracking them to ReAssure, as well as paying an unnecessary lawyer Â£ 400 plus VAT. ReAssure told you, “After a thorough search of our files, we are unable to locate this policy.”
I asked the company to try again and they spent several weeks digging through the microfiche files before coming back with astonishing results. These policies were not life insurance. In fact, these were investments that would have paid a lump sum when due in 1997, or regular income through an annuity.
Some thoughtful calculations followed to determine what was owed to you. ReAssure concluded that the annuity income option would have paid more and therefore arranged a payment of Â£ 24,707.40. But then one of the actuarial team discovered another policy that had been transferred from Guardian.
This triggered an additional payment of Â£ 16,289.23, for a total of Â£ 40,996.63. I suggested that significant compensation was needed to reflect the potential consequences of those appalling initial mistakes, when you were swept aside. Your daughter has also weighed in to seek appropriate remedies. ReAssure covered the lawyer’s fees and, after some negotiation, added Â£ 1,000. You made a generous donation to a prostate cancer charity.
A reader said their friend’s brother got a power of attorney for their mother, but they disappeared without a trace and left her without financial support.
A spokesperson for ReAssure explains, âIt’s not uncommon for policies to have matured but not been claimed before we acquired them, but the duration in this case is extremely rare. âUnder normal circumstances, we would expect at least a basic registration of a policy that ended prior to its arrival at ReAssure, but since these policies expired 20 years prior to acquisition, there was no no trace of them on our system. ”
That said, ReAssure accepts that “you shouldn’t have been told that we just couldn’t find the police and we’re extremely sorry for that.”
YOU HAVE YOUR OPINION
Every week, Money Mail receives hundreds of your letters and emails regarding our stories. Here are some of the best snippets from our article on the boiling rental market:
I think that keeping good tenants in your property is better than trying to squeeze every last penny from them. I have a property that I am renting well below the market price, but I prefer to keep my current tenants. MS, West Midlands.
It’s no surprise that the rental market has become competitive when so many landlords have sold. They are fed up with the government always interfering with their business. I am about to sell and look forward to the freedom it will bring. LO, Portsmouth.
My two daughters struggled to find accommodation to rent last year. You had to pay six months’ rent in advance. The other spent thousands of dollars to make a dilapidated property habitable. CR, Warwickshire.
Families pay such a high percentage of their monthly income in rent that many cannot save to buy a home. Some could easily afford mortgage payments, but they will never be able to buy under current credit rules. JM, Worcester.
With house prices soaring, it doesn’t surprise me that rents are rising and will continue to rise to keep pace with inflation. Homeowners have high costs and most cannot afford to subsidize tenants. I’m sorry for the people who can’t afford to buy. RM, Ulster, Ireland.
My rental agent used to advertise rentals before they were ready to be viewed. But now he doesn’t get the word out until they’re ready to go. He is inundated with candidates every time. In one case, he had 200 people trying to see a house. TW, Brighton
My friend’s brother got a power of attorney for their mother after they sold her the family home. He used the family assets to buy a âforever homeâ with an annex for grandmother.
But three months ago, he dropped off his mother at my friend’s – his brother – changed phone number and moved. Now my friend is taking care of his mother without any financial or emotional support. Neither he nor she knows where his pension is going, or what other help they can get.
NS, Dagenham, Essex.
Tony Hazell replies: What kind of person abandons a relative in a brother’s house and then disappears with the money? I can only assume that the brother is in debt. Melinda Giles, a member of the Law Society’s Wills and Fairness Committee, tells me that if there is an Enduring Power of Attorney (LPA) in place, then your friend should report the situation to the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG), who will investigate the actions of the lawyer. Although this is not a public document, your friend may ask the OPG for a search that will confirm the details of the APL.
She adds, âHe might also report the case to the local authority’s backup team, and they might be able to provide assistance as well as check with the pension authorities. “It would also be prudent for the brother to instruct a lawyer or contact his local citizen council on this matter.”
In addition, I would contact his bank and the Ministry of Work and Pensions regarding his state pension. It would help if your friend has his mother’s national insurance number. He needs legal advice – and the sooner the better.
My car was vandalized while parked on a main road near my home. Two tires on the passenger side were stabbed. The garage across the street wanted Â£ 160 to replace them; a national installer cited Â£ 100.
I got a crime number and called my insurer, Hastings Direct. After a 30-minute call, I was told that my car, a 55-plate Renault Clio, would be written off and picked up in 53 days. The call manager then changed his mind and said he would be picked up in 50 minutes and ended the call. I tried the “live chat” and was then told that my car would be collected and a courtesy car would be dropped off. For two weeks I emailed and looked at two flat tires. TM, Colchester.
Tony Hazell replies: I contacted Hastings Direct and – hey hop – they got in touch with you right away to sort this out. A spokesperson for Hastings Direct told me, “Looking at the claim there were a small number of errors in our customer’s claim path and we apologize for that. We will cover the cost of the damaged tires and provided a rental car while he is without his vehicle. ‘ So much time and expense for something that could have been fixed for Â£ 100 if Hastings Direct had answered correctly on the day of your call.
TO THE POINT
When my husband canceled his O2 contract, my account was also closed. I applied for his reinstatement, but instead I was put on a new one-year contract without my knowledge. I have since found another supplier but O2 is charging me Â£ 111 to leave. L.VG., by email.
An O2 spokesperson apologizes and claims that one of his advisers gave you the wrong information. You are not required to pay the termination fee.
I have been suing M&S since June for a refund of Â£ 3,696 for a canceled furniture order. The store told me twice that they would send a five-day special delivery check, but nothing happened. CD, Kent.
M&S raised the check shortly before you contacted each other. You received it five days later and emailed the store thanking you.
Last year I worked for three days as a substitute teacher before schools closed during lockdown. I received Â£ 409 of universal credit because I had no income but the Department for Work and Pensions is now demanding repayment. JT, Cheshire.
Your company agreed to put you on leave, but due to a delay you had no income for seven weeks. Yet the DWP insists that you were not entitled to the allowance because of your income and that you have to repay the money. A spokesperson suggests that you call their debt management team on 0800 916 064 to discuss a repayment plan.
We bought appliances from Currys and the seller persuaded me to pay the bill in installments through a finance plan with Creation. I tried to clear the balance to avoid interest charges, but the payment – by credit or debit card – continues to be declined. AS, Stirling.
Creation could not explain why your payment was not accepted online. Instead, he suggests trying by phone or wire transfer. A customer service representative offered to contact you for assistance.
We love to hear from our loyal readers, so ask that in this difficult time you email us whenever possible as we will not be picking up letters sent to our mailing address as regularly as usual. . You can write to: [email protected] or Ask Tony, Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT – please include your daytime phone number, mailing address and a separate note to the offending organization that gave him permission to speak to Tony Hazell. We regret that we cannot respond to individual letters. Please do not send original documents as we cannot take responsibility for them. No legal liability can be accepted by the Daily Mail for the answers given.