With-profits funds explained Impact of the inherited estate on with-profits funds
Will I get a pay out?
There are two different ways in which policyholders may receive payouts from the inherited estate: with a ‘special bonus’ payment, or through a reattribution.
Some companies have undertaken reattributions - AXA in 2000 and Aviva (then Norwich Union) in 2009. Aviva also made a series of three special bonus payments from 2008 to 2010. Prudential was considering undertaking a reattribution but decided in June 2008 that it would not proceed with the process and kept its £8.7bn inherited estate.
Due to lax regulation policyholders are less likely to receive payouts than we think they should be, and these payouts may be smaller and phased over time. We want to see rule changes to stop policyholders losing out.
What is a 'special bonus' payment?
Companies are only allowed to use the money in the inherited estate for a number of defined purposes. If there is money over and above what is needed to meet these purposes it is deemed an 'excess surplus' and the company must give 90% of the money back to policyholders.
Will I get a special bonus?
Unfortunately these payments are very rare. It was not until Norwich Union decided to undertake a reattribution that the company announced that £2.4 billion of its inherited estate was excess surplus.
It seems extraordinary to us that Norwich Union was able to build up such an amount of excess capital without anyone taking action to ensure that this money was paid out to policyholders.
We believe that more scrutiny is needed and want an independent assessment of companies’ inherited estates to determine whether any of this money is 'excess surplus'. If it is, it should be paid out to policyholders immediately.
What is a reattribution?
In a 'reattribution', policyholders are offered a one-off cash payment in return for their rights to future 'special bonus' payments from the inherited estate.
The company can offer policyholders much less than the 90% they would receive in a distribution. In the deal proposed by Norwich Union, the company offered policyholders payouts worth less than 50% of the value of the inherited estate for their rights to the entire estate.
Part of the reason why this payout is far less than 90% is because the company is allowed to make allowances to pay for things like shareholders'tax bills, mis-selling compensation costs, and new business subsidies. We think this practice should be stopped and policyholders should receive a fair deal.
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