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Changes to the Scottish Widows Group of companies

OVERVIEW OF THE PROPOSALS

Background

We're proposing to simplify the business of the Scottish Widows Group of companies. This will involve transferring all the policies of certain companies in the Group into a single company within the Group: Clerical Medical Investment Group Limited, which will be renamed Scottish Widows Limited.

Scottish Widows group of companies

The proposals are subject to approval by the High Court in London. If implemented, these proposals will simplify our company structure, allowing the Group to improve efficiency and make better use of our resources. If approved, the date the changes will come into effect is 31 December 2015, which we refer to as the “Effective Date”.

Full details of the transfer are contained in what is known as a “Scheme” - you can find a copy of this in our library.

As a result of the legal requirements relating to transfers of insurance business in Guernsey and Jersey, there will be similar schemes in relation to business carried on in these jurisdictions. Documents explaining these in detail are also available from the library.

How are policyholders affected?

If the proposals are approved by the High Court, affected policies will be transferred to Clerical Medical Investment Group Limited (CMIG).  At the same time, Clerical Medical Investment Group Limited will then be renamed Scottish Widows Limited and its registered office address will be changed to 25 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HN.  It will remain a subsidiary of Scottish Widows Group Limited, which will continue to be registered at 69 Morrison Street, Edinburgh EH3 8YF. However, the addresses for servicing correspondence about policies are unaffected by this change.

The key points in respect of the proposals are:

  • Scottish Widows Limited will be the provider of affected policies from 11.59pm on 31 December 2015 and customers will start to see references to Scottish Widows Limited in our communications from shortly after that date. However, the servicing brand will not change.
  • Policy numbers, terms and conditions, any payments to, or receipts from, policies and the way customers do business with us will not be affected by the proposals.
  • The same teams will service policies after the transfer takes place and policyholders will still be able to contact us in the same way.
  • There will be no change to policy benefits as a result of the proposals.

For policies that are able to invest in a with-profits fund, we will update the wording in the Principles and Practices of Financial Management (PPFM) to reflect the changes if they go ahead. An updated version of the PPFM will be available in the library from the date of the transfer. For more information about with-profits funds, see the Q&A.

As a result of transferring all policies into a single company, policyholders will become more exposed to certain types of risk and less exposed to others. However, capital is also transferred along with the risks sufficient to meet the expected level of risk in an adverse scenario plus a significant margin. The Independent Expert has considered these risks in detail and his conclusions can be read in the Q&A and in paragraphs 6.69 to 6.84 of his full report, which is available from the library. The impact of these proposals on benefit security is also covered in more detail in the Q&A.

Some policyholders hold policies which were originally issued by Scottish Widows' Fund and Life Assurance Society. Those policies transferred to Scottish Widows plc or Scottish Widows Annuities Limited under a Demutualisation Scheme which was approved by the Court of Session in Edinburgh in 2000. Similarly, some customers were formerly policyholders of Lloyds TSB Life Assurance Company Limited (now called Scottish Widows Administration Services Limited). Those policies transferred to Scottish Widows plc or Scottish Widows Annuities Limited under a later transfer scheme (the "2004 Scheme") which was approved by the Court of Session in 2004.  As the proposed new Scheme will supersede the Demutualisation Scheme and the 2004 Scheme, applications have been made to the Court of Session to approve this. This will be covered in more detail in the letters to affected policyholders.

What is the approval process for the proposals?

The Scheme has been designed to be fair to all policyholders and we believe policyholders will not be disadvantaged. To ensure policyholders are protected, our proposals must follow a rigorous process before they can take effect which includes:

  • Consultation with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), our industry regulators;
  • The detailed review by an Independent Expert, whose appointment has been approved by the PRA, who reports on the impact of the proposals on policyholders (a summary and full version of the Independent Expert’s report is available in the library);
  • The right to object – if, having read the information available, you wish to object to the proposals, you have the right to do so. Details of how to raise an objection can be found in the Q&A; and
  • Approval of the proposals by the High Court.

Under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, we are required to make an application to the High Court for the proposals to be considered.  This application has been made and the High Court will consider the proposals at a hearing. The High Court will only approve the changes if it is satisfied that they are appropriate, fair to policyholders and meet all necessary legal requirements. The High Court will take into account the views of the Independent Expert, the FCA and the PRA, as well as any objections raised by policyholders.  The Q&A includes more information on the High Court process. The expected date for the High Court hearing, which customers can attend if they wish to make objections, is Thursday 26 November 2015.

The FCA, PRA and Independent Expert will keep the proposals under review up until the High Court hearing date.

What should I do if I receive a letter about this?

Please read the letter and its accompanying Questions and Answers carefully so that you understand how the proposals affect your policy. Once you’ve read all the information, if you wish to raise any objections to the proposals, details of how to do this are explained in the letter (and also in our Q&A page). Otherwise, you don’t need to take any action.

If you hold more than one policy with any of the affected Scottish Widows Group companies, you may receive a separate letter for each policy. Please read each letter as you may need to consider different information depending on the policy it relates to. If any of your policies are jointly owned, you should make each joint policyholder aware of the proposals.

Full details of the transfer are contained in what is known as a “Scheme”, and we have summarised key information about the Scheme in the letter. You can obtain a copy of the full Scheme in the library or by calling our dedicated helpline on 0800 151 2764 (or +44 131 203 3419 if you are calling from outside the UK).

Q & A