Latest update

Our latest update (22 July 2020) on how we are reacting to coronavirus

We take our responsibilities as an employer and as a vital part of your finances very seriously. Like many businesses across the country it’s very likely that our service may have to change because of the effect of coronavirus.

We’re working hard to limit the effect on our customers

The wellbeing of our staff is incredibly important which may mean there are times when we have fewer people in our offices dealing with customer requests. Equally many customers rely on us to pay them their money on time. For these reasons if we have a reduction in staff during this period, our efforts will be to make payments on time and pay claims quickly. This may mean that other requests may take longer than normal.

We are a strong financial partner

We’re financially prepared to withstand difficult periods such as this. Fitch (a global leader in financial information) has on 29 April 2020 confirmed that ReAssure Ltd’s Insurer Financial Strength rating is ‘A+’ (this rating includes ReAssure Life Limited). You can find more about the rating from Fitch here.

How we’re doing at the moment

The ReAssure team has been given key worker status by the government. For this reason we’ve taken extra steps to be flexible for the wellbeing of our staff and to protect the vital service we’re providing our customers. As many staff as possible are working from home, which means that the small number of staff that must work from our offices can maintain appropriate social distancing.

Our servicing teams in Telford and Romford may be affected differently and work on different systems. This means that you can’t call the other office if you can’t get through to your normal office for any reason. Currently our offices are as follows:

Romford  (Retirement Account customers and for customers whose policy used to be with Barclays Life):

Call centre: We’re still taking calls, but please only call if your query is essential

Online contact form: unaffected – click here

Telford (everyone else)

Call centre: We’re still taking calls, but please only call if your query is essential

Online contact form: unaffected – click here

We’ve included answers to frequently asked questions below. We’re listening to your feedback and updating this list regularly, so please check back here first if you have any questions in the future.

Policy values

A lot of policies are invested in stocks and shares which are sensitive to events that create uncertainty – such as the coronavirus outbreak. These offer good potential for long term growth, but can rise and fall in value too. Very few policies have guaranteed returns, so if your policy is invested in stocks and shares then at times like this your policy value may fall.

Funds invested in stockmarket type investments are designed to be held for the medium to long term to help ride-out volatile periods like the one we’re experiencing now.

Note: Not all policies allow you to take your money early. For example if you’re under 55 you almost certainly can’t access your pension savings at all unless you meet very specific conditions.

Some things for you to consider:

The value of many investments has fallen significantly over the last few weeks and there may be further falls as Coronavirus continues to have an effect on the economy. When markets fall like this, people may be tempted to withdraw their money to protect it. This can lead to the investment being sold at loss and you might miss out on any increases in value in the future if markets recover.

If you need money in the short to medium term and have savings that could be used instead, you might want to consider taking some money from those alternative sources, if that still leaves money in rainy day funds, rather than to realise losses from the investment.

The Government has announced a range of measures to offer support to people during the pandemic. You may wish to investigate whether you are eligible for this support before withdrawing money from your investments.

If the product includes life cover, you should consider the implications of cancelling it, or stopping ongoing premiums, in light of the current additional health risks.

If you need or want to cash in your investment, you could lose out significantly in the longer term. So, you might consider only cashing in what you need.

Some policies have valuable features that will be lost if you take your money early. This could include guaranteed returns on your investment or cover that will protect you or your family if the worst were to happen. It’s also worth considering whether you need to take your money from your policy right now. By taking your money from your policy now you’ll lose the ability to benefit from any recovery in the stock markets that may happen over the longer term.

We’ll tell you about any guarantees or cover provided by your policy if you choose to cancel it.

The value of many investments has fallen significantly recently and there may be further falls as Coronavirus continues to have an effect on the economy. When markets fall like this, people may be tempted to switch their money into lower risk funds to protect it. This can lead to the investment being sold at loss that might have been avoided if the investment were held for the long term.

If you sell when the market is down, you will likely suffer a loss in the value of your investments and might miss out on any increases in value in the future if markets recover.

ReAssure can’t tell you what funds to invest in. You should always make sure that your policy and the funds you’re invested in match your attitude to risk and what you have planned for your money. For example:

  • If you move to low risk funds and stay in them too long you may miss out on growth in financial markets and your policy could be more vulnerable to the effects of inflation.
  • On the other hand, if you’re planning on taking a large proportion of your savings soon, being in higher risk funds puts you at risk of further sudden movements in the stock markets affecting what you may get back.

If you’re not sure about what funds to invest in, you should seek guidance or independent professional advice.

ReAssure is unable to offer you any advice on which funds are best for your individual circumstances. You may want to consider getting professional financial advice.

A Financial Adviser can make a personal recommendation based on your individual circumstances and the options available to you. If you don’t have a Financial Adviser, you can find one at unbiased.co.uk.

If you make regular contributions to an investment, you might wish to consider continuing to make those contributions. You will be able to invest at lower prices than before the market downturn. Remember there are no guarantees about how funds may perform in the future.

If you’re not sure what to do you should speak with a financial adviser. You may also find helpful information and guidance from PensionWise, the Money and Pensions Service and Citizens Advice Bureau. If you’re a pension customer you can also explore the Retirement Planning toolkit that shows you the long term effect of your retirement plans.

Claims

Death claims arising from the Coronavirus infection would be paid, subject to the usual policy terms and conditions.

Life cover does not have any restrictions relating to the FCO advisory list, so you will still be covered under these circumstances (unless specific exclusions were added to your policy as part of the underwriting process or your cover only provides for accidental death).

Although the Coronavirus infection isn’t a covered condition on critical illness policies, if complications as a result of the virus lead to other criteria being met, (for example kidney failure, liver failure, heart failure or respiratory failure), the claim would be met subject to the terms and conditions of the specific policy.

Income Protection customers with the Coronavirus infection who are unable to work due to incapacity, past the deferred period on their policy, would be covered, subject to the terms and conditions of their policy.

If your Income Protection only covers accidents, then you will not be covered.

Fund suspension

On 18 March 2020 our fund managers were forced to suspend trading in the ReAssure property fund due to concerns over their ability to value properties given the current restrictions on non-essential travel.

To make sure that there is as little disruption to our customers, the following things won’t be affected:

  • Regular withdrawals that are already in place
  • Regular contributions that are already in place
  • Regular fund switching activity that’s already in place (lifestyling for example)
  • Pre-planned payments to you at a preselected date (policy maturity for example)
  • Claims on death or illness
  • Regular policy reviews

The suspension affects your ability to:

  • One-off withdrawal requests (including pension transfers)
  • Changes to regular contributions
  • Changes to regular withdrawals
  • Fund switch and redirection requests

This should only be disruptive to you if you planned to make changes to your policy while the fund is suspended. As soon as we know that the fund is free to trade again then we’ll write to you again to let you know.

If you’re interested in one of the transactions affected by the fund suspension, please contact us and we can discuss options with you.

You can find a list of the funds you’re invested in by looking in your annual statement. A list of the affected funds is below:

M&G funds (suspended 04 December 2019):

  • AL M&G Property GQSB Life Accumulator 60
  • AL M&G Property PPB Pension Accumulator Series 60
  • AL M&G Property PPB1 Pension Accumulator Series 60
  • AL M&G Property PPBR Pension Accumulator Series 60
  • M&G Property Pension Standard Series 1

ReAssure internal property funds (from 18 Mar 2020):

  • Aberdeen Property Share
  • AL Aberdeen Property Share (inc. GQSB, GWEB, PPB, PPB1, PPBR, TGSB)
  • AL SWIP Property (inc. GQSB, GWEB Life, PPB, PPB1, PPBR, TGSB Pen)
  • Global Property
  • Property
  • SWIP Property

Some ReAssure customers also have access to other property funds. Whilst trading in these funds continues we can’t control whether any fund manager will suspend their fund.

Whilst fund suspensions usually only happen in exceptional circumstances (such as market volatility), they are more likely to happen to funds invested in property.

As property funds are invested in physical buildings there can sometimes be a delay in valuing and selling property as quickly as customers are moving their money. This means that to make sure all investors are treated fairly, property fund trading may be stopped temporarily.

If you are concerned about being able to access your money in the short term you may want to consider another fund to invest in (once trading recommences). ReAssure can’t recommend an alternative, so if you’re not sure what to do you may want to speak with a financial adviser.

We recommend you get independent professional advice from a Financial Adviser if you’re unsure what to do. A Financial Adviser can make a personal recommendation based on your individual circumstances and the options available to you. If you don’t have an adviser, you can find one at unbiased.co.uk. You may have to pay for any advice you receive.

Other queries

During this difficult time we’re trying to make life easier for our customers. One thing we’ve realised is that customers who receive their income by cheque are having to make additional trips out of the house to visit the bank.

We don’t know how long this crisis is going to affect us, but you can get your money faster and more safely if we pay it directly into your bank account for you. Once payments are set up be paid to your bank account we can also pay the amount for any cheques you haven’t paid in.

What do I need to do?

Call us on the normal number. We’ll take your details over the phone. For most people this means you don’t need to send us any forms or ID, but if we do need ID from you, we’ll tell you straight away.

Alternatively, you can send us a form, making sure to include either a cancelled cheque or a pre-printed paying-in slip for the account you want us to pay into (this must be an account in your name).

I don’t want my annuity paid into my bank - what do I do?

It may be helpful to consider that some banks offer the ability to pay in cheques using mobile banking apps. It’s also worth remembering that you have up to six months to cash a cheque, however if you wait more than six months you’ll need to get in touch with us to get your cheque re-issued.

Whilst Coronavirus is causing a great deal of disruption to our customers we recognise that our overseas customers have the additional disruption of delays to international mail.

Please use our contact us form to send us any messages or make any requests you need. We can only respond by post or by phone, so make sure to leave a phone number so that we can call you back if we need to.

If you want to keep your policy beyond its fixed end date to ride out the current market instability this is called taking an extension option. Extension options may have been given to you when you took your policy out – but this option isn’t available on all policies. If you’re interested in an extension option, but you’re not sure whether you can do this, use our contact us form and we’ll look into this for you.

The team that would normally respond to SARs have been asked to divert their attention to other work related to making payments to customers. Data protection is very important to us and this wasn’t an easy decision to make, but at a time like this paying money to our customers on time is always our top priority.

This may mean that SARs are not completed in the required one month time limit. If this is the case we’ll write to you to confirm the delay and give you options such as approaching the Information Commissioners Office (ICO).

If there is any specific information that you’re looking for, our normal customer services team may still be able to help you. If this is the case please contact us online and we’ll do our best to help.