Friday 21 November 2014

Irish customers of Equitable Life urged to seek compensation

Charlie Weston Personal Finance Editor

Published 19/09/2013 | 05:00

Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness has urged people to immediately seek redress
Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness has urged people to immediately seek redress

PEOPLE in this country who took out pension policies with Equitable Life have been urged to immediately seek compensation from the British government.

There were some 6,500 policyholders in Ireland, along with more than one million UK policy holders who incurred losses to their pensions, savings and investments, when the company went bust.

Estimated total losses were close to €6bn for all the policyholders.

The British government announced in October 2010 that £1.5bn (€1.8bn) would be paid out to the victims and to the relatives of those who died waiting for compensation.

Now Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness (pictured) has urged policyholders here who lost out on their pension savings and who have not to date received compensation under the UK Government's partial-compensation scheme, to immediately seek redress.

She said there was a deadline of next March for making a claim.

Some policyholders have already received pay-outs, but theses have been a fraction of the losses.

Irish policy holders of the collapsed Equitable Life have been left disappointed at the low level of compensation they are due to get from the British government. One Equitable Life customer told this newspaper: "I got a cheque from Equitable Life the other day. But it was around one-fifth of what I lost."

Equitable Life was once regarded as the best-managed private pension company in the UK.

But it got into trouble in 2000 when it emerged that the company could not afford to pay guaranteed annuities.

Equitable was forced to honour guarantees made on older pension policies leading to cuts in the value of thousands of members' policies.

The Equitable Life Payment Scheme was set up by the British government in 2010 to compensate policyholders who suffered financial losses as a result of government maladministration in the regulation of Equitable Life.

The MEP, who has championed the cause of policyholders in the European Parliament, said she was receiving daily contact from Irish policyholders expressing both disappointment at the level of compensation being offered and the poor customer service.

"The whole thing has been extremely disappointing," she said.

"It would further compound the injustice done to those who lost out on their savings and investments if some among them were not to receive compensation, inadequate though it is."

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