ABI publishes code of conduct for annuities

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) will implement its code of conduct for annuities on 1 March.

The ABI Code of conduct on retirement choices aims to help people who buy an annuity each year better understand their options at retirement, choose the right annuity for their circumstances and shop around for the best deal, using clear and consistent information provided by insurers.

The code also aims to:

  • Provide clear, timely information to help people approaching retirement understand what their options are. At least two years from retirement the insurer will encourage the customer to consider their retirement options. Six months from retirement and at least six weeks from retirement, the insurer will send details explaining the various options, such as combining small pots, and shopping around for the best annuity.
  • Explain the different ways to take retirement income. This will include providing for dependants, lifestyle or medical conditions that may mean they are eligible for an enhanced annuity and protecting against inflation.
  • Encourage shopping around for the right pension deal. The benefits of shopping around among other providers will be clearly highlighted along with sources of further advice. Insurers will no longer include annuity application forms in information issued to employees so there will be less chance the customer will buy from their current provider without first shopping around.

Otto Thoresen, director general at the ABI, said: “This code is the latest initiative in the industry’s commitment to helping meet customers’ changing pension needs.

“Increasing life expectancy means that many people will be receiving a pension for longer than they were paying a mortgage, so the need to make the right decisions at retirement has never been more important.

“The timely, clear and relevant information provided under the code will significantly increase the number of people reaching retirement with the confidence to make the right pension decision.”

Sajid Javid, economic secretary to the Treasury, added: “Raising awareness of the crucial decisions people need to make about their retirement has benefits both for individuals and for the industry as a whole.

“I welcome the ABI’s code of conduct in giving customers clearer information and helping people get the best pension deal possible.”

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The impact of the new code of conduct will be reviewed in 2014.

On 31 January 2013 the Financial Services Authority launched a review into pricing in the annuity market.