Widow’s shock as Aviva ‘hidden’ pension loses £7,919 in two months

The final payment dropped dramatically during the time it took to process the claim

Last modified on Mon 21 Jun 2021 02.03 EDT

My husband died of cancer in 2018. He had a pension with Aviva that I didn’t know about, and which I only discovered by chance when Aviva sent him a statement in February.

I was sent a claim pack, and I provided all the requested documents in mid-March.

I received my documents back and assumed Aviva had everything it needed. At the end of April a payment arrived in my account without any further contact from the company.

However, rather than the £63,382 I had been told that the pension was worth in February, the amount credited was £55,463. In the time taken to process the payment, it lost £7,919.

I understand pensions fluctuate, but this is a lot of money to a widow with two young children.

Do I have grounds to question the delay?

LH, Watford

This scenario – an unknown pension or policy – happens more often than you would think, and there is thought to be up to £2bn worth of unclaimed life insurance in the UK. Bank statements can often reveal payments, and former employers will usually advise whether a deceased individual had a pension, life insurance or death in service cover.

At least in this case you were able to discover the pension and make a claim. With regards to the final payout from the pension, I asked Aviva to take a second look, and it has agreed to pay you the larger sum.

It seems that when you advised Aviva of your husband’s death in late February, the value of the pension was the £55,463 you were subsequently paid. Due to an error, it says it did not make the payment at the time. By the time the statement was produced, share prices had risen, and the higher sum was shown.

“We have now thoroughly reviewed the particular circumstances of this case. Given those and, as the policy erroneously remained in force until LH queried it with us in March of this year, we believe it is appropriate to pay out the value of the pension at the date that we cancelled it. This is £62,686, including interest. In addition, we have offered her £750 to apologise for the upset caused,” says Aviva.

This shows why everyone needs to tell their partners about their finances, or at least write a list of where their money is if the worst should happen.

Hopefully they won’t need it, but if they do, it will be invaluable.

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