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Consumer Rights.

Updated: 4 Mar 2021

Is there a deadline for making a mis-sold endowment complaint?

There are strict time limits for complaining about mis-sold endowments. Read our guide to see if you're owed compensation, and how to claim it.
Which?Editorial team

Mis-sold endowment time limits 

There are strict time limits for complaining about mis-sold endowments. You have either:

  • six years from the date your policy was sold, or - if it gives you more time -
  • three years from the date you became aware (or should reasonably have become aware) that you had grounds for complaint

The main reason your provider is likely to feel you should be aware that you have grounds for complaint is if your endowment has a shortfall or a high risk of a shortfall.

Key Information

Top tips

For a step-by-step guide to complaining, find out how to complain about a mis-sold endowment

Mis-sold endowment red letters

Your endowment provider should have written to you to warn you if there is a high risk of a shortfall on your policy and given a clear final date for making a complaint. These letters are called red letters.

Once the final date given in your red letter has passed, the firm who sold your endowment doesn’t have to consider your complaint and you have no right of referral to the Financial Ombudsman Service. This is generally referred to as being time-barred or out of time.

Many people are now time-barred but if your endowment has a high risk of a shortfall, or has already matured (or been surrendered) with a shortfall you should still check your paperwork to see if and when you received any warning of this and whether you are due compensation.

The Financial Ombudsman Service can consider complaints made out of time, but usually only does this in exceptional circumstances. It could still be worth contacting it to check though.

Does my endowment date matter?

If your endowment was sold to you before 29 April 1988 you may not be able to claim – dependant on who sold you your policy. 

This is the date investment advice became regulated under the Financial Services Act 1986 and is known as A Day.

Endowments sold prior to this date by independent financial advisers (IFAs) and mortgage brokers are outside the jurisdiction of the Financial Ombudsman Service, so they are under no obligation to consider your complaint and are unlikely to do so.

If on the other hand your endowment was sold by a lender or insurance company (rather than an IFA or broker), they will normally consider your complaint and you retain the right to refer your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service if you are unhappy with the outcome.

You should check your paperwork to find out who sold you your policy and when. If you are still unsure ask your provider.

Endowments sold after August 1988

If the firm who sold you your endowment is no longer trading and your policy was sold after 28 August 1988, you may be able to refer your complaint to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

The FSCS is unlikely to be able to help you if your endowment was sold before 28 August 1988 because there was no investor compensation scheme in the UK before this date.