RegulationMay 31 2013

FCA rules Equitable Life transfer disclaimer ‘unfair’

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Equitable Life Assurance Society has agreed to amend the wording of the disclaimer on its transfer forms, after the Financial Conduct Authority ruled that it is “unfair” and could have the effect of absolving the firm from all liability under a customer’s original contract.

The FCA ruled that the payment instruction form may act to deter a customer from making a valid claim against the firm if they thought that Equitable Life had done something wrong, “such as investing their funds against their instructions, or incorrectly calculating the funds before they were transferred or surrendered”.

Equitable Life requires its customers to sign a PI Form when they apply to transfer a life assurance policy, pension fund, savings or investment fund to a different provider, or if they want to surrender a policy or withdraw their money.

The PI form gives the firm the authority to transfer or pay out the funds and close the customer’s account.

Equitable Life has agreed to change the PI form so that it makes it clear that the firm’s obligation to make payments only ends after it has fully paid the customer what they are due under the policy.

Even after signing a PI form, customers are still able to bring claims if they can show they have been underpaid, the FCA said, adding that signing the PI form does not remove a customer’s right to bring a claim about any other act or omission by Equitable Life.

PI Forms signed after 2 June 2013 will contain the new disclaimer wording.