Life insurers look for lost claimants

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BILLIONS of pounds are left unclaimed in mature policies held by insurance companies, writes Caroline Merrell.

Standard Life alone, one of the UK's biggest life insurers, has 56,000 unclaimed policies with a total maturity value of over £30m. It said that it did its best to trace policyholders through a series of letters or by contacting their banks.

A spokeswoman said: "One of the biggest categories of claims is cancelled policies - often people who take out endowments for house purchases, and then move and do not realise they could be entitled to a refund for some of their endowment." Standard Lifehas employed somebody to try and trace the rightful owners of the money. The spokeswoman said: "Anybody who believes they have money with Standard Life will have to go through a validation process."

Many other life insurers have far fewer unclaimed maturities.

Prudential has £10m worth of policies from 300,000 customers, and Royal Life has £2m worth in unclaimed maturities from 1,737 policyholders.

Both try to contact the policyholders by letter and failing that via the banks or financial advisers that sold them the policies in the first place.

Allied Dunbar has about £350,000 worth of maturities held on behalf of 75 policyholders.

Laurentian Financial Group has about £1m in unclaimed policies from 200 policyholders. Some of the people that Laurentian is trying to trace are: Clive Williams, from Merseyside or Clywd, who has an unclaimed policy worth £17,639; James Farrer-Halls, from Surrey, who has £8,359; Alasdair McCall, from Norfolk, who has a mature policy of £20,065; and Barsam Ephraim, from London, who has an unclaimed policy of £7,004.

Laurentian found that the most frequent reasons for people disappearing or leaving their maturity values unclaimed are moving house, death and divorce.

Laurentian can be contacted on 0452 371371, and Standard Life on 031 225 2552.