Were you Mis-Sold a Pension by Aviva / Norwich Union?

Have you been mis-sold a pension by Aviva? It’s thought that about one-third of UK pensions might have been wrongly sold. See if you qualify, and our Pension Experts team could help you get back as much as £350,000.

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Have Aviva mis-sold me my pension?

If you’re concerned that your Aviva pension plan may have been mis-sold to you through the use of misleading or false information, it’s important to explore whether you might be eligible for compensation.

Mis-selling can manifest in various forms, such as receiving unsuitable advice, being unaware of hidden fees, experiencing high-pressure sales tactics, or not being provided with sufficient product information.

To assess your situation and understand if you can claim compensation or money back, we encourage you to contact our pension experts.

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A woman filling out a missold pension claim for her father

Information about Aviva

Aviva is a leading insurance, wealth, and retirement business in the UK, also serving customers in Ireland and Canada. The company’s global corporate website is designed for investors, shareholders, career seekers, the media, and those interested in its social purpose.

Aviva has recently completed significant acquisitions, including Optiom and AIG’s UK protection business, and is actively involved in community and social initiatives. For instance, Aviva is the first company from the insurance and pensions sector to join the expanded Dormant Assets Scheme, demonstrating its commitment to social responsibility.

Key highlights from Aviva’s activities include:

  • The completion of the acquisition of Optiom as of 5 January 2024.
  • The announcement of Q3 2023 Trading Update on 16 November 2023.
  • The acquisition of AIG’s UK protection business announced on 25 September 2023.
  • The full year results announcement scheduled for 7 March 2024.
  • The opening of Aviva Studios, an arts and culture space in Manchester, on 18 October.
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Recent rulings involving Aviva and pensions

DRN-4522144 Aviva / Mr. S

The document DRN-4522144 is a decision from the Financial Ombudsman Service regarding a complaint made by Mr. S against Aviva Life & Pensions UK Limited (Aviva). Mr. S complained that Aviva mis-sold him his pension plan due to the poor performance of his pension investments between 2021 and 2023. He also argued that Aviva mismanaged his pension funds by continuing to invest them according to the final lifestyle percentages after he deferred his retirement and failed to act on his instruction to switch his funds into cash to prevent further losses.

Key Points of the Complaint:

  • Mr. S had a personal pension policy with Aviva, starting on 1 February 2006, initially set up by his employer.
  • The funds were invested in a lifestyle programme designed to gradually move investments into lower-risk funds as he approached retirement, aiming for 25% cash and 75% in an index-linked Gilt tracker fund by his selected retirement age (SRA) in 2022.
  • After completing the lifestyle programme and deciding to defer his pension, Mr. S’s pension value continued to fall, leading him to complain to Aviva.
  • Mr. S claimed Aviva lost over £70K of his money and failed to protect his investments as he approached retirement, contrary to his expectations.
  • Aviva’s response to Mr. S’s complaint was that it had not done anything wrong, stating that the pension had to be invested somewhere until cashed in or transferred, and that market factors caused the loss in value of the investments.

Decision by the Financial Ombudsman Service:

The Ombudsman, Jo Occleshaw, decided not to uphold Mr. S’s complaint for several reasons:

  • Aviva managed Mr. S’s pension investments in line with the terms and conditions of his plan, and it was Mr. S’s responsibility to ensure his investments were appropriate.
  • There was insufficient evidence that Mr. S gave Aviva a valid instruction to switch his pension funds into cash.
  • Aviva did not give Mr. S any financial advice regarding the lifestyle investment programme, which was chosen by his employer, not Aviva.
  • The lifestyle programme was correctly applied, and Aviva could not be held responsible for the poor performance of the investments.
  • Mr. S was informed through annual statements and other communications about how to change his investments, and it was his responsibility to review his investments regularly.

The Ombudsman required Mr. S to accept or reject the decision before 1 February 2024.

This case highlights the importance of understanding the terms and conditions of investment programmes, the role of personal responsibility in managing investments, and the limitations of financial service providers in guaranteeing investment performance.

DRN-3362896 Aviva / Mr. J

The document DRN-3362896 details a complaint by Mr. J against Aviva Life & Pensions UK Limited (Aviva) regarding the poor performance of his personal pension plan and administrative issues, particularly concerning his address and National Insurance (NI) number details. Mr. J was shocked by the plan’s performance when he inquired about taking benefits as he approached 55, leading him to request an investigation and copies of all annual statements since 2000.


  • Mr. J’s pension plan began on 8 March 1989 with Commercial Union (CU), later merging into Aviva.
  • He experienced issues with the transfer of benefits from an occupational pension scheme (OPS) in 1989, which were not applied to his new policy. This was rectified in 1998 with redress.
  • Aviva underwent several mergers and name changes, affecting the fund in which Mr. J was invested.
  • Mr. J had moved residences, and Aviva continued sending correspondence to an old address, leading to communication issues.

Complaint and Investigation:

  • Mr. J raised concerns about being moved to Aviva without consent and potential issues post-merger with Norwich Union.
  • Aviva’s handling of Mr. J’s updated address was incorrect, leading to misdirected communications.
  • Aviva’s final response letters (FRL) addressed the policy value and administration but failed to resolve Mr. J’s concerns satisfactorily.
  • The Financial Ombudsman Service investigator found issues with Aviva’s handling of Mr. J’s address and NI number details and deficiencies in customer service, recommending £300 compensation for distress and inconvenience.

Ombudsman’s Decision:

  • The Ombudsman upheld Mr. J’s complaint, focusing on Aviva’s failure in several areas, including incorrect recording of address details and NI number, leading to significant distress for Mr. J.
  • The Ombudsman noted Mr. J’s behaviour during interactions with Aviva staff but also highlighted Aviva’s responsibility for the errors and its failure to resolve matters promptly.
  • Despite Mr. J’s challenging behaviour, the Ombudsman found Aviva’s customer service lacking, particularly in its communication and handling of the complaint.
  • The Ombudsman upheld the complaint, requiring Aviva to compensate Mr. J £300 for the trouble and upset caused, in addition to addressing overcharges on his plan.

The case underscores the importance of accurate customer data management and responsive, empathetic customer service in resolving complaints, especially when dealing with sensitive issues like pension funds.

DRN-4286739 Aviva / Mr. C

The document DRN-4286739 outlines a complaint by Mr. C against Aviva Life & Pensions UK Limited (Aviva), represented by his independent financial adviser (IFA). Mr. C argued that Aviva provided incorrect transfer values for his personal pension over several years, affecting his retirement funding decisions.

Key Points of the Complaint:

  • Background: Mr. C’s pension, invested in a with-profits fund, was set to allow 100% of the benefits as tax-free cash (TFC). Upon reaching his normal retirement date (NRD) in July 2021, the funds were moved into cash, with a guarantee that the fund value would not fall below the value at NRD.
  • Issue: Between January 2019 and March 2021, Mr. C and his IFA received multiple notifications of the pension’s transfer value, which fluctuated significantly. By March 2021, the value had decreased to £29,853 from a previously quoted £35,878 in August 2020.
  • Complaint to Aviva: Mr. C complained about the decreasing value, and Aviva responded by attributing the decrease to a lower final bonus compared to 2019 and 2020. Further correspondence revealed a flaw in Aviva’s methodology for calculating transfer values, admitting that past valuations had been overestimated.
  • IFA’s Argument: Mr. C’s IFA argued that the incorrect valuations influenced Mr. C’s decision to retain the policy, leading to a perceived disadvantage as the final pension value fell by 15%. The IFA sought compensatory measures from Aviva for the flawed valuation methodology.
  • Aviva’s Response: Aviva acknowledged the error in overvaluing the policy due to a flawed calculation method but argued that the retirement value provided a fair return, apologizing for the incorrect higher values quoted in the past but refusing compensation.

Ombudsman’s Decision:

The Ombudsman upheld Mr. C’s complaint to some extent, recognizing that Aviva’s provision of misleading valuations over an extended period led to a loss of expectation for Mr. C. However, the Ombudsman did not fully support Mr. C’s claim to the extent desired, noting that the evidence did not convincingly show that accurate valuations would have significantly altered Mr. C’s decision-making regarding his pension.

  • Compensation: In light of the distress and inconvenience caused by Aviva’s failings, the Ombudsman directed Aviva to pay Mr. C £300 in compensation.
  • Final Decision: The Ombudsman’s decision aimed to acknowledge the impact of Aviva’s errors while considering the evidence and arguments presented by both parties. Mr. C was required to accept or reject the decision by 16 October 2023.

This case highlights the importance of accurate financial valuations and the potential impact of misinformation on individuals’ financial planning and decision-making, especially concerning retirement funds.

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It’s estimated that around a third of UK pensions may have been mis-sold. Check if you’re eligible, and our team of Pension Experts could assist you in reclaiming up to £300,000.

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