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‘Poldark’ miner Cornish Lithium raises £5.2m in three days through crowdfunding campaign 

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poldark miner cornish lithium raises 5 2m in three days through crowdfunding campaign

A company planning to mine lithium in Cornwall raised £5.2million through a crowdfunding campaign in three days, having only intended to make £1.5million.

Cornish Lithium closed the funding round on the Crowdcube website several days early because it had received more than treble its original target.

The company said last month it had found ‘world-leading’ reserves of lithium, a key metal in making electric car batteries, in hot springs in Cornwall.

New era: Aidan Turner as Poldark in the BBC series. Cornish Lithium said last month it had found 'world-leading' reserves of lithium in hot springs in Cornwall

New era: Aidan Turner as Poldark in the BBC series. Cornish Lithium said last month it had found ‘world-leading’ reserves of lithium in hot springs in Cornwall

It claims the deposits of the green metal could create hundreds of jobs – raising the prospect of another Poldark-style era of mining in the county.

Boss and founder Jeremy Wrathall said raising more money than expected was an ‘amazing vote of confidence’ and means it can accelerate plans to develop its project.

The company is planning to open several sites, which it says could create between 10 and 50 jobs. 

Cornish Lithium is planning to go public, likely by floating on AIM, in the next two years. 

Wrathall said: ‘We can accelerate our drive towards the production of lithium from our geothermal waters project and from our hard rock project near St Austell as well as to advance our exploration programme focused on other battery metals.’

The company attracted 3,767 investors on Crowdcube.

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Starling and Monzo top the charts for current account switches

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starling and monzo top the charts for current account switches

The number of people swapping current accounts between July and September using the official switch service rose almost two-fifths on the previous three months, data shows.

136,575 switches took place during the latest three month period as banks brought back three-figure welcome bonuses which had vanished over the coronavirus lockdown.

With only 98,192 people switching during the first three months of lockdown, several high street banks have since begun re-offering cash incentives in a bid to entice new customers.

Lockdown winner: Starling Bank managed to bag the most amount of switching customers, while losing the least between April and June, data shows

Lockdown winner: Starling Bank managed to bag the most amount of switching customers, while losing the least between April and June, data shows

Lockdown winner: Starling Bank managed to bag the most amount of switching customers, while losing the least between April and June, data shows

NatWest and HSBC are currently incentivising new customers to switch with a £125 switch offer. 

RBS and Lloyds Bank meanwhile are similarly teasing new customers with a £100 incentive.

The switching service revealed that while the number of switchers grew in the summer, more people switched in January and March pre-pandemic, than the six month period afterwards. 

Andrew Hagger, from the personal finance site Moneycomms, said: ‘Between April and June the numbers of people switching dropped off a cliff but this data shows that it’s starting to pick up again.

‘When you think of the 113,000 people who switched in March alone this year, it’s clear we are a long way from normal.

‘People have a lot more to worry about at the moment so switching bank account is probably not that high on the list of priorities, but with more banks beginning to offer incentives that could change.’ 

The move for banks to reintroduce bribes comes after the digital smartphone banks won the switching battle between April and June, the most up-to-date figures its provides. 

That means we’ll have a clearer picture in the next set of figures as to just how important these incentives are to snag customers.  

Monzo and Starling winning switching customers is key for the challengers, as they battle to get people to use it as their main current account, rather than just a secondary one. 

Starling proved the most popular. It gained 12,786 customers and lost just 788.

Although more customers switched to Nationwide, Britain’s biggest building society also saw 6,270 switch away from it between April and June. 

Online and mobile banking offerings and better customer service were reported as the most common reasons why customers would switch bank accounts, rather than upfront welcome bonuses.

This is potentially one reason why Monzo and Starling continue to perform strongly and steal customers away from the established banks.

Which banks gained the most customers during lockdown?

Bank:                  Gains:                          Losses:                     Gains per loss:   

Starling             12,786                        788                            16.2

Monzo               12,788                        1,395                         9.17

Nationwide      16,353                       6,270                        2.61

Natwest            12,350                       8,216                         1.50

RBS                     1,601                          1,373                          1.17 

Jon Ostler, chief executive of the personal finance comparison site Finder, said: ‘The lack of switching incentives from the big banks over lockdown is a likely explanation as to why digital-only banks take the top two positions for net gains.’

Ostler added, that the parity between current account offerings during lockdown gives a more natural indication of consumer preference. 

He believes that although Monzo and Starling will be delighted with the top two spots, both now face a challenge from the main high street banks whose switching incentives have historically driven up their customer numbers at the expense of others.

With the news on Tuesday that HSBC could begin charging for current accounts people may be incentivised in future months to switch just to avoid losing money.

John Crossley, head of money at Compare the Market, said: ‘If the demise of free current accounts becomes a reality this may further increase the numbers switching.

‘Customers deserve easy access to their finances and value for money, and the increase in switching in the most recent quarter suggests that many people are dissatisfied with their current provider and voting with their feet.’  

The two banks which performed the worst were Santander and Halifax, two providers that until recently regularly topped the charts.

Santander lost a net 12,532 customers and Halifax 10,019. Santander and its 123 current have seen a number of perk cuts in recent years, including some this week which saw change in cashback terms.  

Who did best in 2019?

With switching data for individual banks now available for all 12 months of 2019, here are the banks which gained the most switchers last year:

– Nationwide Building Society – ‭105,157‬

– HSBC – ‭63,635‬

– Monzo – ‭63,164‬


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THIS IS MONEY’S FIVE OF THE BEST CURRENT ACCOUNTS

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Frugal cars that sip fuel and gas guzzlers that empty bank accounts

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frugal cars that sip fuel and gas guzzlers that empty bank accounts

When it comes to buying a car – new or used – one of the most important factors for many drivers is how quickly it will empty its fuel tank.

With many motorists looking to reduce their costs as much as possible, particularly during this period of financial hardship brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, the importance of having a frugal motor could be greater now than ever before.

While consumers can get an idea of how economical a car is by the ‘official’ mpg figures published by manufacturers, most buyers know that these claims need to be taken with a pinch of salt.

However, there is one real-world test carried out in the UK that gives a more accurate measurement of how economical cars are on the road. 

We’ve listed the top most and least efficient models, which includes diesels, to have been put through What Car?’s True MPG assessment.

MOST EFFICIENT CARS

10. Seat Ibiza 1.0 TSI 95 petrol (from £17,675)

Official MPG: 60.1MPG

True MPG: 54.0MPG

Difference: -10% 

The Seat Ibiza would likely already be on your shopping list if you're on the hunt for a competent supermini with plenty of space. Its 3-cylinder motor is super frugal

The Seat Ibiza would likely already be on your shopping list if you're on the hunt for a competent supermini with plenty of space. Its 3-cylinder motor is super frugal

The Seat Ibiza would likely already be on your shopping list if you’re on the hunt for a competent supermini with plenty of space. Its 3-cylinder motor is super frugal

The Seat Ibiza is a great option if you’re looking for a spacious supermini. A strong engine line up, solid build quality and sporty looks, it ticks many boxes for buyers in this segment.

The 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine is also affordable to run. A less potent 80PS version is available in the UK, but it’s the 95PS version What Car?’s test team has judged. Returning 54mpg, it’s over 6mpg short of the claims but still impressively economical.

9. Skoda Superb Estate 2.0 TDI diesel (from £27,960)

Official MPG: 57.5MPG 

True MPG: 54.8MPG 

Difference: -5% 

The Skoda Superb Estate is proof that large cars can be economical too

The Skoda Superb Estate is proof that large cars can be economical too

The Skoda Superb Estate is proof that large cars can be economical too

If you thought this list would be full of small, efficient cars, you’d be wrong. The Skoda Superb proves big models can be frugal.

A combination of a fuel-supping 2.0-litre diesel engine and the improved aerodynamic efficiency of a longer estate body combines to provide an impressive 54.8mpg – which is less than 3mpg shy of the claims. 

=6. Renault Kadjar 1.5 dCi 110 diesel (from £26,495*)

Official MPG: 57.7MPG 

True MPG: 55.2MPG 

Difference: -4% 

The Renault Kadjar has recently been proved a reliable second-hand motor. Its diesel engine is also fuel efficient, according to What Car?

The Renault Kadjar has recently been proved a reliable second-hand motor. Its diesel engine is also fuel efficient, according to What Car?

The Renault Kadjar has recently been proved a reliable second-hand motor. Its diesel engine is also fuel efficient, according to What Car?

Renault’s Kadjar recently topped our poll of the most reliable used SUVs, using data from warranty provider Warrantywise. And as well as being dependable, it’s pretty economical too.

The dCi 110 diesel engine is no longer available in showrooms, with Renault pulling all oil burners for the Kadjar in recent weeks. If it’s anything like its counterpart, it should be exceptionally frugal for a mid-size SUV.

=6. Skoda Citigo 1.0 60 petrol (from £8,885**)

Official MPG: 64.2MPG 

True MPG: 55.2MPG 

Difference: -14% 

Skoda's Citigo is designed to be an easy-to-drive and affordable town runaround. The least powerful engine in its range returns over 55mpg in real-world tests

Skoda's Citigo is designed to be an easy-to-drive and affordable town runaround. The least powerful engine in its range returns over 55mpg in real-world tests

Skoda’s Citigo is designed to be an easy-to-drive and affordable town runaround. The least powerful engine in its range returns over 55mpg in real-world tests

The Citigo is Skoda’s answer to a fun, affordable and practical city car. It comes with a range of 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engines, with the 60PS tested here being the lowest of the outputs.

Returning over 55mpg in real-world assessments, it will be a cheap runaround for town drivers, though not quite as economical as the official measurements suggest. 

= 6. Suzuki Baleno 1.0 petrol (from £12,999**)

Official MPG: 62.7MPG 

True MPG: 55.2MPG 

Difference: -12% 

The Baleno is an often-overlooked family hatchback, but with the 1.0-litre petrol engine under the bonnet is one of the most efficient

The Baleno is an often-overlooked family hatchback, but with the 1.0-litre petrol engine under the bonnet is one of the most efficient

The Baleno is an often-overlooked family hatchback, but with the 1.0-litre petrol engine under the bonnet is one of the most efficient

Most buyers in the mid-size hatchback segment will be looking at popular cars like the Ford Focus, VW Golf or Vauxhall Astra. However, there is an offering from Suzuki, which is often overlooked.

The Baleno might not have the premium feel of the Volkswagen or driving characteristics of the Ford, but it does have an efficient 1.0-litre petrol engine. It’s 12 per cent less economical than official measurements suggest, though. 

How What Car? tests True MPG 

Consumer title What Car? carries out its True MPG test on all new models it assesses.

It says the test is repeatable within one per cent and more realistic than official government fuel economy figures achieved in labs that car manufacturers are obliged to quote.

This is mainly down to the driving technique during the measurements, which is described as ‘gentle’ and ‘within speed limits’, but unlike the official test includes relatively quick acceleration.

‘The True MPG tests are carried out under tightly controlled conditions: climate control is always set to 21 degrees and cars due to be tested are stored overnight at a set 23 degrees so they all start with exactly the same engine temperature and in the same ambient air temperature,’ What Car? states in its explanation of the results.

That means these are figures you can not only expect to achieve, but also have faith in.

The stats don’t include electric cars – for obvious reasons – but What? Car does have a ‘Real Range’ test for zero-emissions models too, informing buyers about the plug-in vehicles that can cover the longest distances between charges. 

You can also find out which electric vehicles have the longest claimed ranges

5. Volkswagen Up 1.0 75 petrol (from £12,440*)

Official MPG: 68.9MPG 

True MPG: 55.9MPG 

Difference: -19% 

The Up is the sister car to the Skoda Citigo. With VW's more potent 75PS 1.0-litre motor, it return almost 60mph

The Up is the sister car to the Skoda Citigo. With VW's more potent 75PS 1.0-litre motor, it return almost 60mph

The Up is the sister car to the Skoda Citigo. With VW’s more potent 75PS 1.0-litre motor, it return almost 60mph

 Despite fuel economy being down almost a fifth on the official claims, the VW Up with the 75PS 1.0-litre engine is still one of the most frugal models What Car? has put through the True MPG tests.

Returning just shy of 60mpg, it means this is an economical city car as well as one oozing style, desirability and plenty of character. 

4. Seat Leon 1.6 TDI 110 Ecomotive diesel (from £19,595**)

Official MPG: 85.6MPG 

True MPG: 56.0MPG 

Difference:

A new Leon has replaced this model this summer. With the 1.6-litre diesel Ecomotive engine under the bonnet, it's one of the most frugal family cars

A new Leon has replaced this model this summer. With the 1.6-litre diesel Ecomotive engine under the bonnet, it's one of the most frugal family cars

A new Leon has replaced this model this summer. With the 1.6-litre diesel Ecomotive engine under the bonnet, it’s one of the most frugal family cars

There’s an all-new Seat Leon in showrooms from this summer, which is based on the latest mk8 VW Golf. 

The version What Car? has tested is the previous generation Leon, which can be found as part of dealers’ clearance stock, but most likely on the used market. If you can track down a brand new model with a big discount, it will be a brilliant bargain family car.

3. Vauxhall Astra 1.6 CDTi 110 Ecoflex diesel (from £20,090*)

Official MPG: 85.6MPG 

True MPG: 56.3MPG 

Difference: -34% 

The Ecoflex engine has since been replaced with a rebranded Ecotec unit. It should still perform around the same as the model tested here by What Car?

The Ecoflex engine has since been replaced with a rebranded Ecotec unit. It should still perform around the same as the model tested here by What Car?

The Ecoflex engine has since been replaced with a rebranded Ecotec unit. It should still perform around the same as the model tested here by What Car?

The Ecoflex engine has since been replaced by a 1.6 CDTi Ecotec motor, though it promises to return similar levels of efficiency. And over 85mpg is a seriously big claim.

Unfortunately, What Car?’s test revealed that, in reality, owners won’t get near that bloated stat. However, it does return over 56mpg, which makes it one of the most economical models the consumer title has reviewed yet.

2. Suzuki Celerio 1.0 petrol (from £8,999**)

Official MPG: 58.8MPG 

True MPG: 57.8MPG 

Difference: -2% 

The Celerio was, for a time, one of the cheapest new cars you could buy in Britain. You might struggle to find zero-mile examples in Suzuki showrooms today

The Celerio was, for a time, one of the cheapest new cars you could buy in Britain. You might struggle to find zero-mile examples in Suzuki showrooms today

The Celerio was, for a time, one of the cheapest new cars you could buy in Britain. You might struggle to find zero-mile examples in Suzuki showrooms today

The Celerio is a cheap car, priced from less than £7,000. It’s not what you’d call luxurious, but the peppy 1.0-litre engine combined with a lightweight and compact body means it’s slower to slurp petrol than almost any other model on sale.

The 57.8mpg figure achieved by What Car? is very close to what the official test suggests you’ll get, too.

1. Suzuki Ignis SHVS mild hybrid petrol (from £16,749)

Official MPG: 65.6MPG 

True MPG: 59.6MPG 

Difference: -9% 

Topping What Car?'s test is the Suzuki Ignis SUV with a mild-hybrid powertrain. It returned almost 60mpg in the auto magazine's assessment

Topping What Car?'s test is the Suzuki Ignis SUV with a mild-hybrid powertrain. It returned almost 60mpg in the auto magazine's assessment

Topping What Car?’s test is the Suzuki Ignis SUV with a mild-hybrid powertrain. It returned almost 60mpg in the auto magazine’s assessment

The SHVS version of the Ignis, which is front rather than four-wheel drive, is the most efficient car What Car? has tested. It’s what’s called a ‘mild hybrid’. That means it has a small electric motor to supplement the 1.2-litre petrol engine under the bonnet.

The compact crossover achieves almost 60mpg in the True MPG test. And even if you wanted a model with the extra security of four-wheel drive, the figure drops to just 53.3mpg. 

LEAST EFFICIENT CARS

The 3 Series Touring might be practical, but in the powerful M340i guise is pretty thirsty

The 3 Series Touring might be practical, but in the powerful M340i guise is pretty thirsty

The 3 Series Touring might be practical, but in the powerful M340i guise is pretty thirsty

10. BMW 3 Series M340i Touring petrol (from £52,375)

Official MPG: 34.9MPG 

True MPG: 28.0MPG 

Difference: -20% 

This sporty BMW 3 Series is 20 per cent less economical than claimed, returning just 28mpg. 

9. Audi Q7 50 TDI diesel (from £57,965)

Official MPG: 34.0MPG 

True MPG: 27.2MPG 

Difference: -20% 

Heavy SUVs are not likely to be frugal, and the Q7 is a prime example of that, even when powered by a diesel engine. 

8. Volvo XC40 T4 petrol (from £32,770*)

Official MPG: 40.4MPG 

True MPG: 27.1MPG 

Difference: -33% 

Volvo is ditching conventional internal combustion engines, focusing on hybrid and electric powertrains. This petrol T4 is no longer on sale.

7. Mercedes S500 petrol (from £76,640*)

Official MPG: 26.9MPG 

True MPG: 38.2MPG 

Difference: -30% 

The S-Class equipped with the six-cylinder petrol engine is unsurprisingly uneconomical. A new S-Class has been confirmed for next year. 

6. Land Rover Discovery 3.0 SDV6 diesel (from £57,720*)

Official MPG: 36.7MPG 

True MPG: 26.3MPG 

Difference: -28% 

Another large SUV to feature in the list is the Land Rover Discovery with the since-replaced 3.0-litre SDV6 diesel powerplant. 

The AMG GLC 43 ticks all the boxes for an inefficient model - it's large, heavy and powered by a thunderous engine

The AMG GLC 43 ticks all the boxes for an inefficient model - it's large, heavy and powered by a thunderous engine

The AMG GLC 43 ticks all the boxes for an inefficient model – it’s large, heavy and powered by a thunderous engine

=4. Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 petrol (from £54,420)

Official MPG: 31.0MPG 

True MPG: 25.3MPG 

Difference: -18% 

The AMG GLC 43 ticks all the relevant boxes for a non-efficient vehicle – it’s large, heavy and has a potent petrol engine under driving all four wheels.

=4. Porsche Macan Turbo Performance Pack petrol (from 68,910)

Official MPG: 24.8MPG 

True MPG: 25.3MPG 

Difference: +2% 

The potent Porsche Macan Turbo is the first model in this list to have an True MPG figure that betters its official claim. However, it’s still one of the biggest fuel guzzlers What Car? has tested. 

3. Mercedes-Benz S500 Cabriolet petrol (from £125,010*)

Official MPG: 27.0MPG 

True MPG: 25.2MPG 

Difference: -7% 

The S500 is no longer on sale in the UK. But there is still a range of expensive drop-top S-Class models, all with thirsty petrol powerplants.

2. Audi SQ5 diesel (from £55,745)

Official MPG: 34.4MPG 

True MPG: 24.6MPG 

Difference: -28% 

Audi’s decision to fit its powerful SQ5 with a diesel engine instead of petrol power would have partly been to ensure the fuel economy is practical. Still, less than 25mpg is lower than you’d expect. 

1. Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio petrol (from £67,195)

Official MPG: 35.7MPG 

True MPG: 23.5MPG 

Difference: %-34 

Surprisingly, it’s a family saloon that props up the bottom of the What Car? True MPG league table. This is no ordinary saloon, though. It’s the super-fast Alfa Giulia Quadrifoglio. 

The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is the least efficient model What Car? has tested

The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is the least efficient model What Car? has tested

The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is the least efficient model What Car? has tested

*engine is no longer on sale. Price provided is for replacement engine versions in showrooms today

**model no longer on sale. Price based on RRP when last available

CARS & MOTORING: ON TEST

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Aviva undervalued my father’s life policy by using ‘wrong’ date

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aviva undervalued my fathers life policy by using wrong date

I am helping my 83-year-old stepmother sort out my late father’s affairs, and I have been battling with Aviva since early May over what I believe is an incorrect valuation of a life assurance policy.

My father held two life policies with Aviva, of which my stepmother is the beneficiary. The terms of both state the valuation should be at the point of official notification of death, which was made on 16 December.

But one policy has been valued by Aviva on 27 March, nearly 14 weeks later – very conveniently for them after the coronavirus market crash.

Life policy: Aviva shortchanged us £5,600 by valuing it on wrong date - after Covid market crash

Life policy: Aviva shortchanged us £5,600 by valuing it on wrong date - after Covid market crash

Life policy: Aviva shortchanged us £5,600 by valuing it on wrong date – after Covid market crash

We’ve had to deal with two separate departments over these two policies, and received bizarrely different treatment.

Aviva’s life department valued the Axa policy I believe correctly at around £36,500 on the date of death notification, and staff there were swift to respond, helpful and professional.

But Aviva’s bond department valued the Sun Life policy at around £38,600, which is about £5,600 short of what it would have been if valued in mid-December.

This department didn’t even respond to tell us this valuation until the end of April, and its staff have been totally incompetent in dealing with enquiries.

They have refused to explain why they picked a valuation date in March, and after we complained simply referred us to the Financial Ombudsman. The customer service my family has received from them has been appalling.

I’ve now made an official complaint to Aviva’s new chief executive, Amanda Blanc, but have heard nothing since receiving a simple acknowledgement several weeks ago.

Not every individual might have the necessary know-how to value a policy correctly, and find out whether Aviva’s selection of the wrong date has left them out of pocket.

However, I would be interested to know if you’ve received similar complaints from other This is Money readers, regarding undervalued Aviva Life Assurance claims.

Tanya Jefferies, of This is Money, replies: Aviva backed down on this when we got in touch, and has said sorry to you.

It will pay your stepmother an extra £5,653.28, including interest to cover the delay, and an additional £200 by way of apology. Its full statement is below.

Aviva says its terms and conditions say a calculation will be made from the written notification of death. 

But you tell us Aviva never asked you to put it in writing when informed of your father’s death, which seems a major omission on its part if that is the standard requirement.

You would think ‘you need to inform us in writing’ would be the first thing a staff member would say, after offering condolences, in that situation.

The Aviva department dealing with your father’s other life policy apparently accepted verbal notification, which only sowed further confusion about what you were meant to do.

The terms and conditions on written notification were in a document that you tell us wasn’t sent out until after you complained many months later, and even then Aviva staff didn’t draw your attention to this rule.

You first complained in May, and it has taken nearly six months and the intervention of This is Money to get this resolved, though Aviva tells us a senior complaints manager had already begin reviewing your case after you escalated the issue to its new chief executive.

Have you made a claim on an Aviva life policy? 

Tell This is Money your story at tanya.jefferies@thisismoney.co.uk. Please put AVIVA LIFE POLICY in the subject line.

We asked Aviva if it would be carrying out checks to ensure customers haven’t had life policies valued on wrong dates by your bond department, and it says this will be part of its review into your case.

The insurer confirmed it would make up the shortfall for any customer found to be underpaid, and that it would not seek to recover any overpayment it had made in error.

Your calculation of the difference in payout between mid-December and the end of March was pretty bang on, if you take out the interest.

But you are right that not everyone will have the know-how to work this out themselves, if they suspect a problem with a valuation.

We asked a financial adviser experienced in dealing with life policies to explain how to do the sums, and to give his take on your case.  

An Aviva spokesperson replies: We are very sorry that Mr X, acting on behalf of his stepmother, has experienced difficulties in claiming on one of his late father’s policies.

We have conducted a detailed review which has concluded that the claim was originally administered in line with the terms and conditions, which state that the calculation will be made from the written notification of death.

However, we acknowledge that we did not make the date of valuation clear when the family first contacted us and that our claims service on this occasion was not what it should have been.

We are therefore honouring the payment from the earlier verbal notification date. 

Gary Smith: Ask the provider to put in writing how death benefits are valued before simply accepting the amount they offer

Gary Smith: Ask the provider to put in writing how death benefits are valued before simply accepting the amount they offer

Gary Smith: Ask the provider to put in writing how death benefits are valued before simply accepting the amount they offer

Gary Smith, chartered financial planner at Tilney, replies: I was surprised that your reader has suffered such poor service, in respect of the death claim as, from my experience, death claim departments are typically highly efficient, compassionate and process claims in a timely manner.

I was particularly concerned that your reader was referred to the Financial Ombudsman, as that shows a complete lack of understanding from the individual they were dealing with at Aviva.

Once your reader has made a complaint, Aviva should acknowledge the complaint in writing, and then provide their decision in writing and, only once this has been received and, if your reader disagrees with the outcome, can they take this to the Financial Ombudsman.

I am pleased to hear that your reader is finally going to receive the correct amount and that Aviva are doing the correct thing by applying interest, and an apology payment, for the delays and inconvenience suffered.

This is how their complaint should have been dealt with from the outset.

Unfortunately, I have had to deal with a number of death claims so far this year, and I have to say that I have not experienced any difficulties when dealing with insurance providers, even during the period when staff were working from home due to lockdown restrictions.

I would hope that this was a one-off bad experience, rather than a systematic issue with the insurance provider’s processes. 

How are life assurance claims normally dealt with by insurers?

Once notification of death has been provided to insurance companies – and it is best to do this in writing via email or recorded delivery, as well as verbally – they will respond detailing exactly what they require, and this could include a request for:

1. The death certificate

2. Potentially a copy of the will

3. Potentially a request for probate

4. Details of what death benefits will be payable, and what date of valuation will be used.

The situation differs depending upon what type of policy the deceased had.

So, if it was a life cover policy with a sum assured of £100,000, written under trust, then the value will represent the sum assured on the policy and a death certificate is usually all that is required, along with confirmation from the trustees where the proceeds are to be paid.

The situation can differ where there is an investment and, as your reader correctly identified, checking the policy document to clarify how death benefits are calculated is important.

However, often policies have been in place for decades and policy documents can get misplaced over time, so ask the provider to put in writing how death benefits are valued before simply accepting the amount they offer.

Good practice might be to keep policy documents with your will, or provide the executor of your will with a list of assets, as this will make the administrative process of an estate far more straightforward and reduce the potential for policies to be missed.

Unfortunately, this does happen, and I had a recent case where a client had received notification (coincidentally from Aviva), that they had located a bond that was owned by her late mother, who had died during 2009, with the payment only now being made.

This wasn’t the provider’s fault, as they can only process the death claim where they are informed of the death.

A further point to highlight is that death doesn’t necessarily mean that the policy has to come to an end or pay out a value.

Often policies can be written on a joint life, second death basis, so the death of the first life assured won’t result in any proceeds paying out.

Furthermore, some off-shore bond products can be written on a capital redemption basis, meaning that the death of the lives assured won’t automatically result in the surrender of the bond, and the beneficiaries could choose to keep the investment, and surrender it in the future.

How do you check a life policy was valued correctly? 

When submitting a death claim on a life policy which includes an investment element, ensure that you ask the provider to produce a breakdown of how they have calculated the value that will be made as part of the claim, writes Gary Smith of Tilney.

Once this has been provided, you can check that the value is correct, by following some simple steps.

1. Identify the number of units in each fund: Most policies will be unitised, meaning that units are held in the underlying fund(s).

2. Identify the unit price: Each fund will have a unit price, which is typically valued on a daily basis. The statement should include the unit price used on the valuation date.

3. Check the unit price: Go to the website of the provider and in the fund sections, you will often be able to put in a date, and the unit price on that date will show.

4. Multiply the number of units by the unit price: This is how the value is calculated.

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This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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