Questions Of Cash: Mortgage lender will refund your charges

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The Independent Online

Q. I redeemed my mortgage with Cheltenham & Gloucester in April, having converted the loan to a fixed-rate deal five years ago.

Q. I redeemed my mortgage with Cheltenham & Gloucester in April, having converted the loan to a fixed-rate deal five years ago. The conditions clearly stated we would pay an additional charge if the mortgage was redeemed within five years of conversion. Yet C&G has still charged me £146.19 for early redemption. It calculates that the conversion did not take effect until 30 June 2000, which does not seem right according to my records. We could have delayed the redemption if we had known.
EB, Bristol

A. Cheltenham & Gloucester accepts that there was confusion over the redemption date and that you acted on the assumption that you were free of redemption penalties. Accordingly, C&G has agreed to refund the early redemption penalty.

Q. I read the article in The Independent about life insurance being cheaper for non-smokers (Save & Spend, 12 March). In 1987 my wife and I took out an endowment policy - which includes life-assurance cover - with Scottish Widows. The application form asked whether we smoked. At the time, my wife smoked 15 cigarettes a day, but gave up smoking 10 years ago. Having read the article, I wrote to Scottish Widows asking if premiums could be reduced. Scottish Widows simply says it will not reduce the premiums.
MD, by e-mail

A. Scottish Widows told us: "The premiums for any policy are determined at outset, based on the medical evidence available to us at that time. The premium agreed at that time continues for the duration of the policy."

A person who gives up smoking does not get a cut in the premium, while someone who takes up smoking is not subject to a ris. People who have free-standing life-assurance policies can switch insurers, but in your circumstances, with life cover included within the endowment premium, you seem to be lumbered.

Q. My main pension is a final-salary NHS pension, but I also have a couple of small pensions from previous employment. Will new legislation allow me to take these small pensions as lump sums? PK, Skipton.

A. Donna Bradshaw at adviser IFG Group says: "The rules regarding 'trivial pensions' - pensions so small they can be taken as a lump sum instead of having to buy an annuity - are due to change on 6 April 2006. But it's unlikely that it will affect you as the amount for pensions to be classed as trivial applies to the aggregate value of all pensions, not to each fund."

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