Have you worked for several different employers over the years?
Can you remember which pension schemes you have been a member of?
Do you know how to find out what you are entitled to?
During your working life, you may have been a member of various pension schemes, some of which you might have lost track of over the years. This could possibly be down to you moving house and forgetting to inform the pension provider your new address or maybe due to them changing their name (they have a habit of doing that), and you are now unsure of what they are called and how to go about contacting them.
Not to worry; I’ve set out some top tips which should help you find any misplaced pension pots.
Firstly, the general rules with older workplace pensions are:
- If you left a workplace pension before April 1975, the chances are that you have had all your contributions returned to you.
- If you left the scheme between April 1975 and April 1988 and left with less than five years’ service again, the chances are your contributions will have been refunded.
- If you left a scheme after April 1988 and had more than two years’ service, then you will be entitled to some pension benefits. However, if you left with less than two years’ service, you will almost certainly have had your contributions refunded to you.
If you think that there should be an old pension in your name, then the next step is to contact The Pension Tracing Service.
They will want as much detail as you can provide including:
- The name of the company you worked for, including any previous or subsequent names which you are aware of it having used.
- The last known address of the employer.
- The type of business in which it was involved.
- The dates when you think you were a member.
- Any previous names which you have used during or since the employment ended.
The second line of enquiry is to contact The National Insurance Contributions Office (NICO). Many schemes were ‘contracted out’ of the state sponsored ‘top up’ pensions such as Graduated Pension and SERPS. If you were contracted out then NICO should be able to provide you with details.
In April 1988, Personal Pensions were introduced. Many of these were provided by insurance companies quite a few of which will have merged or simply changed their names.
For example, Aviva plc, which is one of the largest insurance companies operating in the United Kingdom, has over the years absorbed nearly one hundred smaller companies.
So, what can you do in this case?
You should check your files for any documents which may have been issued to you and try the address or telephone numbers supplied. If you have no joy; go online to search for the current administrators of these old plans. Search for “find my lost policy” and you will find quite a few sites who offer to help. The one I’ve had success with in the past is Policy Detective.
All you need to do is start typing in the name of the company you are trying to contact and a list of options appears from which to choose from. Full contact details will be displayed, and, the site even has proforma letters for you to use when writing to the company.
Once you have details of all of your pensions, remember to keep the providers informed of address/name changes in the future.