Thousands of people could end up with bigger pensions as new rules will force insurers to inform customers about better annuity options. The Association of British Insurers’ (ABI) new code of conduct forces insurers to give more information about how consumers can ‘shop around’ for a better deal, while ensuring that those with health problems receive a higher income as a result.
Buying the wrong type of annuity
Currently, according to the ABI, more than half of all investors who buy an annuity – which pays a fixed income for life – simply buy the default annuity deal from their current pension provider. As a result many end up buying the wrong type of annuity or effectively locking into an uncompetitive pension deal for the rest of their lives. Shopping around for the best annuity deal could increase the size of a pension by over a third. A recent report from the National Association of Pension Funds claimed that this was costing pensioners more than £1bn in lost retirement income.
Benefits of shopping around
The new rules stop insurers from including an application form in the information pack sent to customers approaching retirement, making it less likely that people will simply buy the first annuity they see. These ‘retirement packs’ have been redesigned to place greater emphasis on the benefits of shopping around. Crucially, where insurers are selling an annuity to one of their existing customers, they will be required to ask about their circumstances and medical conditions before providing a quote.
A pension is a long-term investment. The fund value may fluctuate and can go down as well as up. You may not get back your original investment. Past performance is not an indication of future performance. Tax benefits may vary as a result of statutory change and their value will depend on individual circumstances. Thresholds, percentage rates and tax legislation may change in subsequent Finance Acts.