My husband of 64 years passed away in February 2020. He held three life policies which are now with ReAssure, but I’m told it cannot locate them. I appointed a solicitor but, owing to the cost, am now trying to resolve the issues myself.
I have written to ReAssure three times and used its online portal. It either fails to reply or tells me it cannot 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 locate her husband’s life policies after he died – but after we pushed the firm to conduct a more thorough search, she ended up with a £41,000 payment
You had already put in considerable work to track these to ReAssure, as well as paying a useless solicitor £400 plus VAT. ReAssure told you: ‘After a thorough search of our files we are unable to trace this policy.’
I asked the firm to try again, and it spent several weeks trawling through microfiche files before coming back with an astonishing result.
These policies were not life insurance. In fact, they were investments which would have paid a lump sum on maturing in 1997, or a regular income through an annuity.
There followed some brain-stretching calculations to work out what you were owed. ReAssure concluded that the annuity income option would have paid more, and so arranged a payment of £24,707.40.
But then one of the actuarial team discovered a further policy that had been transferred from Guardian.
This triggered an additional payment of £16,289.23, for a total of £40,996.63. I suggested that sizeable compensation was needed to reflect the potential consequences of those appalling initial errors, when you were given the brush-off.
Your daughter also weighed in to demand appropriate reparations. ReAssure covered the solicitor’s fees and — after some negotiation — added £1,000. You have made a generous donation to a prostate cancer charity.
A ReAssure spokesman explains: ‘It is not uncommon for policies to have matured but not been claimed prior to us acquiring them, but the length of time in this case is extremely rare.
‘In normal circumstances we would expect at least a basic record of a policy that terminated before it came to ReAssure, but as these policies matured 20 years before acquisition there was no record of them on our system.’
Having said this, ReAssure accepts that you ‘should not have been told that we just couldn’t find the policy and we are extremely sorry for this’.
One reader said their friend’s brother was granted power of attorney for their mother but they disappeared with no trace and left her with no financial support
My friend’s brother was granted power of attorney for their mum after making her sell the family home. He used the family assets to buy a ‘forever home’ with a granny annexe.
But three months ago, he dropped off his mum with my friend — his brother — changed his phone number and moved.
Now my friend is looking after his mum with no financial or emotional support. Neither he nor she knows where her pension is going, nor what other help 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 can only assume the brother is running from debts.
Melinda Giles, a member of the Law Society’s wills and equity committee, tells me that if there is a lasting power of attorney (LPA) in place, then your friend should report the situation to the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG), which will investigate the actions of the attorney.
While it is not a public document, your friend can apply to the OPG for a search that will confirm details of the LPA.
She adds: ‘He could also report the case to the local authority safeguarding team, and it might be able to provide some help as well as make enquiries of the pension authorities.
‘It would also be prudent for the brother to instruct a solicitor or contact his local Citizens Advice about this issue.’
In addition, I would contact her bank and the Department for Work and Pensions about her state pension.
It would help if your friend has his mother’s National Insurance number. He needs legal advice — and the sooner, the better.
My car was vandalised while parked on a main road near my house. Two tyres on the passenger side were stabbed. The garage across the street wanted £160 to replace them; a nationwide fitter quoted £100.
I got a crime number and called my insurer, Hastings Direct. After a 30-minute call I was told my car, a 55-plate Renault Clio, would be written off and collected in 53 days.
The call handler then changed her mind and said it would be collected in 50 minutes, and terminated the call. I tried ‘live chat’ and was then told my car would be collected and a courtesy car dropped off. For two weeks I have been emailing and staring at two flat tyres. 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 Hastings Direct spokesman told me: ‘Looking back at the claim, there have been a small number of errors in our customer’s claims journey and we apologise for these.
‘We will be covering the cost of the damaged tyres and have provided a hire car while he is without 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.