AROUND £880million worth of pensions pots and insurance policies is left unclaimed by households – but it’s possible to track it down.
Revealed during the Queen’s Speech today, the cash is often left unclaimed as households lose track of it.
Savers are now being urged to track down their money as the government has confirmed an expansion of its dormant assets scheme.
Under the scheme, current accounts and savings accounts that haven’t been touched in 15 years can be raided and given to charity.
An estimated £745million in dormant current and savings accounts has been accessed since 2011 alone.
But the scheme is expanding to include insurance, pensions and investments under the Dormant Assets Bill, Queen Elizabeth said today.
What is the dormant assets scheme?
THE dormant assets scheme is being expanded to include insurance, pensions and investments.
At the moment, the scheme only covers old current and savings accounts.
Through the initiative, the government accesses money from accounts that haven’t been touched in 15 years and puts the cash towards good causes in local communities.
But companies still have to contact the owners of the money first before they hand over the cash to the government.
If your money has already been transferred, you can claim it back.
Ministers say the scheme has been expanded to help more people cope financially during the coronavirus crisis.
However, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport hasn’t yet confirmed when the extension will hapen.
The expansion will need to be heard in Parliament first before it becomes official.
It was first announced in January this year, but was then mentioned in the speech as the Queen spelled out the PM’s agenda for the next 12 months.
The government claims the scheme expansion could unlock £880million in lost funds as the UK recovers from the coronavirus crisis.
Companies who are signed up to the scheme must make a reasonable effort first to contact the owners of the money before handing it over to charity.
You can also still reclaim any money already taken, but it’s best to keep track of your funds in the first place.
Andrew Hagger, personal finance expert from Moneycomms, told The Sun: “The government is right to try and reunite people with their accounts and investments but needs to make the process as simple as possible to encourage people to carry out a quick check.
“Raising the profile of such schemes is essential so some TV advertising should be a priority to encourage greater participation and prevent people losing track of potentially valuable assets.”
Below we explain how to track down pensions, insurance policies and investments.
The Queen also announced today:
How to track down lost cash
If you’ve changed jobs frequently, it’s likely you’ll have been signed up to several employee pension schemes during your working life.
It can also be hard to keep track of personal pensions when you move house, change your name or don’t update your personal details.
But there are ways to find your retirement pots.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) estimates there are 1.6million lost pensions with a collective figure of £19.4billion. This puts the average size of a lost pension at £13,000.
How to track down lost pension savings
IT’S not the easiest to find pensions yourself, but there are things you can try:
- Gather all your pensions documents – If you see any pension providers you don’t recognise, make sure you get in touch and ask if they have more information about your pension and its value.
- Get in touch with old employers – If they’re still in business, contact them to see if they can help you find out which pension provider administers your scheme.
- Check whether you’ve opted out of SERPS – You can do this by contacting HMRC and your pension administrators, but it can be time-consuming. You’ll need to log into your personal tax account on the GOV.UK website, write to HMRC and ask for details on your pensions including policy numbers. You’ll then need to contact your pension scheme administrator.
The free Gov.uk Pension Tracing Service will find you the contact details needed to start your search.
However, it won’t be able to tell you whether you have a pension or what its value is.
The Pensions Advisory Service is another free service with a pension tracing tool, but again it warns that it may struggle to help if you’re unable to provide key details.
There are also paid-for services you can use to trace pensions, although make sure you’re aware of all the costs before signing up.
There are so many different insurance policies to think about, so it’s understandable if you’ve lost track of where your money could be.
The free Policydetective.co.uk website lets you find the contact details of policy providers, if you already know the name of the company you took out insurance with.
Once you’ve found the details, you’ll need to get in contact with the company yourself.
For those who can’t remember the name, ABI recommends checking for lost life insurance policies using credit reference agency Experian’s Unclaimed Assets Register.
Just bear in mind that this service costs £25 for each search.
For car insurance policies, check the Motor Insurer’s Bureau Database.
But for travel, home and other insurance policies, there is unfortunately no central policy database you can check.
Your best bet is to check bank and credit card statements to see which providers you’ve paid money to.
We’ve previously reported how millions of people could owed up to £500 from Aviva, LV= and Royal London from forgotten “penny” insurance policies.
If you’re struggling to find a record of your investments, you can check by getting in contact with the company you have shares in.
There are also three main company registers which hold all this information – Computershare, Equiniti, and Link Asset Services.
But keep in mind that they will charge you a replacement shares certificate, although they’ll conduct a search for free.
Alternatively, you can try contacting trade bodies the Investment Association or the Association of Investment Companies.
The amount you could claim back would depend on how much you’ve invested.
We explain other ways to track down lost cash, including energy bill refunds and current accounts.
We previously spoke to an airport worker who found lost pension pots worth £21,000.
The Sun has also revealed how one mum found £800 in her son’s missing Child Trust Fund.