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Expatriates - BEWARE of AVIVA (and possibly other insurers in the UK)


Burgundy Maid
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We have had an small, old endowment policy for 23 years and we now wish to surrender it.

We contacted AVIVA a month ago and asked for the relevant paperwork, we were told they won't pay into a bank account in France but as we still have our old bank account in the UK we said that was not a problem. After a couple of weeks nothing had arrived so we rang again and a duplicate form would be sent out however, the following day the original arrived which we completed and returned the same day.

Yesterday we received a telephone call from AVIVA saying the bank details didn't match the paperwork we sent but their form doesn't have enough spaces for the bank account number so, reading from right to left we had entered as many digits as possible which they eventually agreed did match the paperwork. During the call they mentioned we needed a letter from our old mortgage company saying they had no further interest in the money (the mortgage was paid off 9 years ago.) On their paperwork they have the word 'assignee' but as lay people we have no idea what this means and as the mortgage was cleared 9 years ago thought there was no outstanding monies owed to anybody. We were then told we needed a letter from the building society saying they had no further interest in the matter. After a quick call to them a letter is on its way to AVIVA.

Returning to the matter with AVIVA because this was out of the blue and the person on the phone agreed the form sent out us was didn't clarify what an 'assignee' was we asked to be transfered to a supervisor. In speaking to the supervisor he realised staff had not sent out sent out correct information because as we had moved abroad we were considered 'high risk' for money laundering purposes. Further proof of identity would be required in the form of a certified copy of our passports or driving licence or sending the original documents to their offices. On querying this it was confirmed this would not be required if we still lived in the UK as 'moving abroad puts you into a high risk category.'

We explained that we had paid our premiums from the same bank account for 23 years and were asking for the payment to be made back to that account and the sum is less than ten thousand pounds in view of the poor performance of endowment policies but this is not taken into consideration.

We were also told that should we let the policy run to maturity we would still have to provide the additional proof of identity.

We are still, to put it politely, discussing the matter with AVIVA as to why moving abroad on its own makes someone a high risk. It would seem to us all this is a matter of delaying as long as possible the pay out.

We spoke to Consumer Direct and the Financial Services Agency in the UK regarding the matter.  The people we spoke to there didn't know what was meant by 'assignee' and they said under no circumstances send original documents as this can lead to identity theft. The FSA say AVIVA have taken the FSA advice on money laundering and made their own interpretation.

George and Coral

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I can understand your feelings but Aviva are doing exactly what any other insurer or bank have to do as it is the amount of the money that triggers a certain level of checking and no company would dare not have this on file, for any audit that could not find the verification on the file would be able to fine the company up to £250,000 per breach of the money laundering regulations.

Regarding sending original documents, I agree and it is common practice to see a solicitor who will verify the authenticity of the document, make a certified copy and send it for £10.00 ish.

If the policy was assigned to a bank or building society then you must obtain a letter of no further interest and send that to Aviva, you may have paid for the policy but it was owned by the bank or building society (or the proceeds) and still is, in the event of either one of your deaths the policy will payout to the bank or building society without that letter.

The fact that the FSA don't know much is not a great surprise, most of the staff are temps anyway. 

http://www.investorwords.com/294/assignee.html

EDIT: nothing to do with your original post but if you don't have to surrender it with only two years to go don't!

By surrendering it you will loose out on the terminal bonus and that could be a pretty size-able chunk (with profits policy only). There are alternatives to surrender, Loan back if you are short of money for something or selling the policy in some cases although with only two years to go that may not be possible as the purchaser would be subject to CGT having not held the policy for 10 years or more.

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Just a follow-on from the above post - money laundering and policyholder verification routines are now much more stringent than they were 23 years ago (and even 5 years ago).  The FSA has applied some huge fines (£1M+) to insurance companies who've been a bit too relaxed about protecting customer interests and a result companies tend to go strictly by the book.  You can rest assured they are not just trying to delay payment to you.

Fraudsters have worked out that bonds and endowments (and pensions too) have been a soft touch so now things have tightened up and really it's to protect policyholders' funds.......

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The point that we are making is that AVIVA are saying the reason that these extra forms of identification are requested is that we have left the UK to live abroad; therefore anyone leaving the UK to live abroad automatically becomes high risk in their view. The amount of money is not an issue and not taken into consideration; we have pointed out we are talking about less than 10k however they just return to the fact 'you have moved abroad'.

In obtaining the certified copies of our passports we have been quoted 100€, which would leave us out of pocket in comparison with a UK resident who would not have to pay out that money; it is pure discrimination. As for doing a loan back etc we don't want to get involved with other financial matters such as that, losing out on a terminal bonus is out of the question. The endowment policy is already half the original amount so there is no bonus we know exactly how much we will get there is no more.

In speaking to AVIVA today we said 'are you saying if it was the British Ambassador to France or an other form of diplomat they would still be seen as 'high risk'?' The response was most illuminating as a lot of waffle came out and the woman said, 'umm you aren't the ambassador are you?'

As AVIVA are insisting that moving abroad is the 'problem' in their eyes, we feel it should, be 'you have moved abroad and' ............. or 'you have moved abroad but' ............. NOT just the fact we have moved abroad. We have also asked if someone moving to the UK from another country in the EU or anywhere else for that matter is treated the same but they refuse to answer.

About four years ago we had another policy mature (not with AVIVA or their previous owner)  we signed the paperwork, sent it back and the money was paid no extra questions asked; it was a dream unlike this.

In Coral's previous employment she had a view into how money laundering worked and no self respecting money landerer would pay low premiums from the same household account over 23 years for a low payout.  There has to be more than the fact you move abroad and it cannot be taken as the only criteria. It is the way people who have moved abroad, of which there are thousands in France alone, are treated in comparison to people who live in the UK. Moving abroad in itself is not  a risk, this includes all diplomats, and other people sent by their company to work in overseas offices, footballers transfered etc. the amount on the policy MUST also be taken into consideration.

We are still in communication with AVIVA.

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[quote user="Burgundy Maid"]The point that we are making is that AVIVA are saying the reason that these extra forms of identification are requested is that we have left the UK to live abroad; therefore anyone leaving the UK to live abroad automatically becomes high risk in their view. No the view of the UK government who passed the laws on money laundering The amount of money is not an issue and not taken into consideration; we have pointed out we are talking about less than 10k however they just return to the fact 'you have moved abroad'.

In obtaining the certified copies of our passports we have been quoted 100€, which would leave us out of pocket in comparison with a UK resident who would not have to pay out that money; it is pure discrimination. Bloody foreigners they exploit the British wherever they go, wasn't like this when we had an Empire  As for doing a loan back etc we don't want to get involved with other financial matters such as that, It was only a suggestion and can be beneficial to some in view of a large bonus that may be paid at the end of the contract. losing out on a terminal bonus is out of the question. The endowment policy is already half the original amount so there is no bonus we know exactly how much we will get there is no more. If the policy is a with profits policy the terminal bonus is only calculated and added at the end hence "terminal" you would not know or be informed of how much that was if you are surrendering. Bonus's of 25% of the funds value are not uncommon.

In speaking to AVIVA today we said 'are you saying if it was the British Ambassador to France or an other form of diplomat they would still be seen as 'high risk'?' The response was most illuminating as a lot of waffle came out and the woman said, 'umm you aren't the ambassador are you?'

As AVIVA are insisting that moving abroad is the 'problem' in their eyes, we feel it should, be 'you have moved abroad and' ............. or 'you have moved abroad but' ............. NOT just the fact we have moved abroad. Again it is the UK money laundering rules that they must obey. We have also asked if someone moving to the UK from another country in the EU or anywhere else for that matter is treated the same but they refuse to answer. As it is not relevant and also the responsibility of the other country and their rules

About four years ago we had another policy mature (not with AVIVA or their previous owner)  we signed the paperwork, sent it back and the money was paid no extra questions asked; it was a dream unlike this. Was it assigned? That is not Aviva's problem, if that life insurance office gets a visit and the money laundering form is not on file they will get fined unless it was for a very small amount. The limits used to be something like regular premiums of £53.00 pm or £500 single

In Coral's previous employment she had a view into how money laundering worked and no self respecting money launderer would pay low premiums from the same household account over 23 years for a low payout.  There has to be more than the fact you move abroad and it cannot be taken as the only criteria. It is the way people who have moved abroad, of which there are thousands in France alone, are treated in comparison to people who live in the UK. Moving abroad in itself is not  a risk, this includes all diplomats, and other people sent by their company to work in overseas offices, footballers transferred etc. the amount on the policy MUST also be taken into consideration. Suggest you take that up with the serious organised crime agency and the FSA as it has nothing to do with Aviva

We are still in communication with AVIVA. I suggest you tell Aviva you were mis-sold your endowment as they never asked if you were going abroad on the fact find or did they? that way you can get all your premiums back.  Don't forget your letter of no further interest from your old lender, that cost you too because you live abroad.
[/quote]

PS I have never worked for Aviva or any of it's subsidiaries. [:)]

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[quote user="Burgundy Maid"]

In obtaining the certified copies of our passports we have been quoted 100€ ... [/quote]

Our local notaires have made many certified copies of both OH's passport, and mine too, over the nearly 5 years we have lived here and never once charged us a cent. I might add that as we rent our home we have never used the notaires for anything other than asking for certified copies of passports, marriage licence, birth certs - the list is long. When we do manage to find a house we both love and can afford to buy then the notaires might actually receive some money from us.

Sue

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Burgundy Maid,  We had a bank loan secured by our property years ago and twice when we applied for other loans we had to get paperwork from that bank, even though the loan had been paid off for some time, this was before all the hoo ha about money laundering too.

 I suspect moving abroad presents a greater risk, its not as if Aviva can ask you just to pop into a local office with your documents for an ID check, My guess is that they perceive identity theft differently when clients are abroad.

Perhaps you should be pleased they are taking such good care of your money [:)]

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[quote user="Russethouse"]

Burgundy Maid,  We had a bank loan secured by our property years ago and twice when we applied for other loans we had to get paperwork from that bank, even though the loan had been paid off for some time, this was before all the hoo ha about money laundering too.

 I suspect moving abroad presents a greater risk, its not as if Aviva can ask you just to pop into a local office with your documents for an ID check, My guess is that they perceive identity theft differently when clients are abroad.

Perhaps you should be pleased they are taking such good care of your money [:)]

[/quote]

It is really nothing to do with Aviva, they must obey the regulations. The FSA would love to catch a big company as it makes the FSA look better, hence big companies with more to loose are very compliant.

The Money Laundering regulations, (changed since 2003 when they applied to me)

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[quote user="Théière"]

But where did they send the money to the same uk address and bank account or to France?

 

[/quote]

Actually just thought this through I told them to send the documents to the address that they had which was not my French address but a mailing address I used in the UK and by chance now live next door to!  They also paid the money into my bank account, they did know I was abroad at the time of the call but maybe not that I had permently moved.  I always try to answer only the questions that are asked of me it's a life rule that I learnt sometime ago!

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