My husband of 64-years died in February 2020. I believe he had three life insurance policies that are still with ReAssure. However, it is not able to locate them. I hired a solicitor to help me, but the cost of the service meant that I had to resolve the issue myself.
I have written three times to ReAssure and used its online portal. It either doesn’t reply or says it can’t locate the policies.
Tony Hazell replies: One of the policies your late husband held was from Royal Exchange Assurance, dating back to 1961, and two were from Atlas Assurance, from 1963.
One reader couldn’t find her husband’s policies on life after he died.
You had already put in considerable work to track these to ReAssure, as well as paying a useless solicitor £400 plus VAT. ReAssure said that it could not locate the policy after conducting a thorough investigation of its files.
I asked the firm for a second attempt. It spent several weeks going through microfiche files, before returning with an amazing result. These policies were not life insurance. These policies were not life insurance. Instead, they were investments that would have paid either a lump sum upon maturity in 1997 or a regular income via an annuity.
To determine your owed amount, ReAssure used some brain-stretching calculations. ReAssure concluded that the annuity income option would have paid more, and so arranged a payment of £24,707.40. The actuarial team discovered that Guardian had transferred a second policy.
This triggered an additional payment of £16,289.23, for a total of £40,996.63. I suggested that you receive substantial compensation to cover the potential consequences of your initial mistakes. Your daughter also intervened to demand the appropriate reparations. ReAssure covered the solicitor’s fees and — after some negotiation — added £1,000. You have donated a generous amount to a charity that fights prostate cancer.
One reader claimed that their friend’s brother had been granted power of attorney for their mom, but that they disappeared without a trace, leaving her without any financial support.
ReAssure spokesperson explains that although it is not unusual for policies to mature but not be claimed before we acquire them, the time span in this instance is very rare. “In normal circumstances, we would expect at most a basic record for a policy that was terminated before it came into ReAssure. However, these policies matured twenty years before acquisition so there was no record of them in our system.
ReAssure acknowledges that ReAssure did not tell you that the policy couldn’t be found and that it was an error.
YOU HAVE A SAY
Money Mail receives hundreds each week of your letters and emails regarding our stories. Here are some of our favorite stories from the hot rental market:
I think it’s better to keep good tenants in your property than try to squeeze every last penny out of them. I have a property which I rent out for well below the market rate, but I’d rather hold on to my current tenants. M.S., West Midlands.
It’s not surprising the rental market has become competitive, when so many landlords have sold up. They’re fed up with the Government always interfering with their business. I’m about to sell and I’m looking forward to the freedom it will bring. L.O. Portsmouth
My daughters struggled to find a place to rent last year. One had to pay six months’ rent in advance. The other spent thousands to make a rundown property habitable. C.R. Warwickshire
Many families pay so much rent that they are unable to save enough to buy a house. While some people could afford mortgage repayments, they won’t be able to purchase a house under current lending regulations. J.M. Worcester.
With property prices soaring, it doesn’t surprise me that rents are going up and will continue to rise to keep up with inflation. Landlords have high costs and most can’t afford to subsidise tenants. I feel sorry for people who can’t afford to buy. R.M., Ulster (Ireland).
My letting agent used to advertise rentals before they were available for viewing. But now he doesn’t put word out until they are turn-key ready. Each time he receives a flood of applicants. One instance saw 200 people trying to view a house. T.W., Brighton
My friend’s brother received power of attorney to their mum after she sold the family home. He used the family assets for a ‘forever home’ that included a granny annexe.
But three months ago, he dropped off his mum with my friend — his brother — changed his phone number and moved. My friend now looks after his mum without any financial or emotional support. Neither he or she know where her pension is, nor what assistance they can get.
N.S., Dagenham, Essex.
Tony Hazell replies: What kind of person abandons a parent at a sibling’s house and then vanishes with the money? I assume the brother is in debt. Melinda Giles, who is a member of the Law Society’s equity and wills committee, told me that if a lasting power of attorney (LPA), is in place, then your friend should inform the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) about the situation. The OPG will investigate the attorney’s actions. Your friend can request a search at the OPG to confirm details of the LPA.
She says that he could also report the matter to the local authority safeguarding group, which might be able provide some assistance as well as making enquiries to the pension authorities. “It would also be prudent for him to contact his local Citizens Advice about the issue.
I would also contact her bank and Department for Work and Pensions regarding her state pension. It would be a great help if your friend has his mother’s National Insurance number. He needs legal advice — and the sooner, the better.
My car was vandalized as it was parked near my house on a main road. Two tyres on my passenger side were stabbed. The garage across the street wanted £160 to replace them; a nationwide fitter quoted £100.
I was issued a crime number and called Hastings Direct, my insurance company. After a 30-minute call, I was told that my Renault Clio 55-plate would be written off, and collected in 53 days. The call handler said that it would be collected within 50 minutes and ended the call. I tried live chat and was told my car would soon be collected and that a courtesy car would be delivered. I have been staring at 2 flat tyres for two weeks while I email and stare at them for two weeks. T.M. Colchester
Tony Hazell replies: I contacted Hastings Direct and — hey presto — immediately it got in touch with you to sort out this mess. A spokesperson for Hastings Direct told me that there were a few errors in the customer’s claims process and that they apologise. We will cover the cost for the damaged tyres, and we have provided a hire vehicle while he is away from his vehicle. What a lot of time and expense for something that could have been fixed for £100 if Hastings Direct had responded properly on the day you called.
STRETCH TO THE POINT
My account was also closed when my husband cancelled his O2 plan. I asked for it be reinstated, but instead I was placed on a new one year contract without my knowledge. I have since found a different provider, but O2 is charging me £111 to leave. L.VG. via email
O2 apologizes and says that one of its advisors misled you. The termination fee is not due.
I have been chasing M&S since June for a £3,696 refund for a cancelled furniture order. The store has told me twice it will send a cheque by special five-day delivery, but nothing has arrived. C.D. Kent.
M&S raised the cheque shortly before you got in touch. You received the cheque five days later. To say thank you, you emailed M&S.
I worked as a supply teacher last year for three days before the schools were shut down during lockdown. I received £409 in Universal Credit as I had no income, but the Department for Work and Pensions is now demanding it back. J.T. Cheshire
Your company agreed that you would be furloughed, but due to a delay you didn’t receive any income for seven consecutive weeks. But the DWP insists that your earnings are not sufficient to provide the benefit and you must repay it. For a repayment plan, a spokesman suggested that you contact the Debt Management Team at 0800-916 064
We bought some appliances from Currys and the salesman persuaded me to pay the bill in instalments through a finance plan with Creation. I have tried to clear the balance to avoid interest charges, but the payment — by credit or debit card — keeps being refused. Stirling, A.S.
Creation could not explain why your online payment was declined. Instead, you can try calling or transferring money by bank transfer. A customer service representative offered to help you.
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