Coronavirus – frequently asked questions

For customers

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We’re here to support you and rest assured we’re doing everything we can to keep our services running as smoothly as possible. We also want to help answer some of the questions you may have about the impact of the coronavirus – these fall into the following four categories:

  • Market volatility – the coronavirus outbreak and its effects on the markets.
  • Pension scams – how to keep your investments safe.
  • Protection – answering your questions.
  • Office closures – affecting all three Aegon UK sites from 24 March 2020.

The value of an investment can fall as well as rise and investors could get back less than they originally invested.

Please remember that we can't give you financial advice. If you're unsure what to do please speak to a financial adviser. If you don't have a financial adviser, you can find one on the Money Advice Service website.

Market volatility questions

The global spread of the coronavirus has been an important contributor to the recent volatility in equity (company shares) markets. Markets tend to react to uncertainty, so as new cases arise and the situation evolves, it’s likely that global markets will be impacted further – potentially for a prolonged period of time. This impact could be both positive and negative at different times as market confidence evolves.

The value of many investments have fallen significantly since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, and there may be further falls as the coronavirus outbreak continues impact the economy. When markets fall like this, you may be tempted to withdraw your money to protect it. This can lead to the investment being sold at a loss that may have been avoided if the investment were held for the long term. You may also miss out on any increases in value in the future if markets recover.

You should speak to a financial adviser in the first instance if you're unsure how the coronavirus outbreak is impacting your investments, or if you should take any action. If you don't have one you can find one on the Money Advice Service website. Please remember that Aegon can't give financial advice.

This isn’t something we can determine. It’s important that you consider these fund value changes in the context of your long-term investment objectives. Fluctuations in fund value should be expected and, as always, there’s a risk that you may get back less than you invest.

The value of many investments have fallen significantly since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, and there may be further falls as the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the economy. When markets fall like this, you may be tempted to withdraw your money to protect it. This can lead to the investment being sold at a loss that may have been avoided if the investment were held for the long term. You may also miss out on any increases in value in the future if markets recover.

You should speak to a financial adviser in the first instance if you’re unsure how the Coronavirus outbreak is impacting your investments, or whether you should take any action. If you don’t have a financial adviser, you can find one on the Money Advice Service website. Please remember that Aegon can't give financial advice.

Market volatility in the wake of the current coronavirus pandemic has led to increased uncertainty in the UK commercial property market.

This uncertainty has impacted the ability of independent property valuers to accurately assess the value of physical properties. This has resulted in a number of UK commercial property funds being suspended with immediate effect.

This means investors are currently unable to switch out or withdraw money from these funds until such time as the fund manager resumes trading.

Where this affects Aegon insured property funds we’ll contact those affected, their financial advisers, and those responsible for impacted workplace pensions schemes, giving people more detail about what this means for them.

See the full list of affected funds and more information about these suspensions

These portfolios were already defensively positioned before the coronavirus started to impact markets, because we believed the prospects for most major markets were relatively weak. In line with our long-term investment approach, we’re assessing the impact of recent events on equity and bond markets to ensure that our investment portfolios continue to appropriately balance risk and opportunity. We also remain in dialogue with Morningstar, the asset allocation provider for our Core and Select portfolios, about their views in the context of the sharp market movements. They recommend taking a measured approach to analysing changes to the long-term value of assets. We share this view and stress the importance of investors considering current market volatility in the context of long-term investment objectives.

During recent market falls caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the risk-management process has been invoked, meaning Retiready Solutions 2 to 5, and the MI Savings funds, have de-risked (moved some of their assets into cash). As at 30 April 2020, all the funds include more than 56% in cash or cash equivalents. 

The aim of the funds’ de-risking process is to cushion investors from the worst effects of a sharp and sustained fall in markets. However, this doesn’t mean the funds won’t fall in value. The funds de-risk when their volatility reaches a fixed trigger point, which is higher for the higher-risk funds in the range. 

To try to keep the funds within their target volatility ranges, the funds will typically de-risk by around 20% at a time, though the underlying fund provider, BlackRock, has the discretion to increase or decrease this amount depending on circumstances.

The fund’s risk management process may mean it misses out on potential growth, particularly if markets bounce back quickly after a fall, or if it de-risks when markets are still growing.

In line with our long-term investment approach, we’re assessing the impact of recent events on equity and bond markets to ensure that our investment portfolios – including our default funds – continue to appropriately balance risk and opportunity. While we can’t predict what markets will do next, we stress the importance of investors considering current market volatility in the context of their long-term investment objectives.

Most default funds reduce exposure to riskier stocks and shares as retirement approaches, with the aim of preparing savings for retirement. This may help to protect those close to retirement from some of the worst of the market falls. However, it may also mean that savers miss out on gains should markets rebound. 

We would encourage you to speak to a financial adviser if you’re at all unsure about whether your investment in a scheme default fund is right for you. If you don’t have a financial adviser, you can find one on the Money Advice Service website. Please remember that Aegon can't give financial advice.

Recent falls in the stock market will mean that, if you’re primarily invested in stocks and shares, you will have seen your pension pot fall in value at a point when you may need to generate an income from those savings.

If you’re about to retire and were planning to buy an annuity, you may face additional challenges as the 0.1% bank base rate (correct as of 8 May 2020) has meant that annuity rates have also fallen.

The value of many investments have fallen significantly since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, and there may be further falls as the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the economy. When markets fall like this, you may be tempted to withdraw your money to protect it. If you sell when the market is down you will likely suffer a loss in the value of your investments and might miss out on any increases in value in the future if markets recover.

If you need money in the short-to-medium term and have savings that could be used, you may want to consider taking some money from those alternative sources if possible, rather than to realise losses from any investments.

If you need or want to cash in your investment you could lose our significantly in the longer term, so you may want to consider only cashing in what you need. The government has announced a range of measures to offer support for people during the coronavirus outbreak. You may want to investigate whether you're eligible for this support before withdrawing money from your investments.

While there’s no guarantee, around if and when fund values and annuity rates will bounce back, you may be able to choose when and how much income you wish to take.

If you’re about to retire we’d encourage you to speak to a financial adviser about your options. If you don’t have a financial adviser, you can find one on the Money Advice Service website. Please remember that Aegon can't give financial advice. 

Withdrawing savings following a sudden downturn can be tempting, and doing so may prevent further losses if markets continue to fall. However, this strategy could also mean you miss out on gains if markets rebound. Timing market withdrawals can be difficult to get right, so we recommend that you speak to your financial adviser in the first instance for questions about your investment decisions. If you don’t have a financial adviser, you can find one on the Money Advice Service website. Please remember that Aegon can't give financial advice.

There’s a cash facility associated with Aegon Retirement Choices, One Retirement and Aegon Platform accounts. It’s designed to support the management of investments and the payment of charges. It isn’t intended as a long-term savings vehicle. Interest on that account is 0.05% below the Bank of England base rate. There isn’t a cash facility associated with other products. 

In addition, many of our products also offer cash and near-cash funds. 

You can see the range of cash investments available on the fund list relevant to your product:

Please note, there are no cash investments available to direct Retiready investors, although other low-risk investment options are available. 

Aegon is a well-capitalised, financially stable organisation that has a strong trading history. As a result, our risk of insolvency is very small. However, were this to happen, any investments held with Aegon would be treated in one of two ways, based on their type.

In the highly unlikely event that you were to suffer direct loss from Aegon going insolvent, if you’re invested in Aegon insured funds (i.e. funds whose names typically start with ‘Aegon’ or ‘Scottish Equitable’) you’d be able to claim under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). The maximum level of compensation for investments is 100%. This includes insured pensions, annuities and whole of life contracts such as life cover and investment bonds.

Where you’re invested in collective investments such as OEICs and unit trusts (including our own LF Aegon OEICs), the assets invested into these funds are held completely separately from Aegon’s own corporate assets and are ring-fenced from them in the unlikely event that Aegon were to become insolvent. The maximum level of compensation for investments is 100% of the amount invested up to a maximum of £85,000. This amount applies for each person and fund manager.

You can find out more about this on the FSCS website.

Aegon is a well-capitalised, profitable business which has been trading strongly.  

Our capital strength is reflected in our A+ ratings from both S&P1 and Fitch2, which demonstrate our position as a financially resilient business.

The Solvency II Directive, issued by the European Union, states solvency capital requirements and aims to coordinate the laws and regulations of EU members as they relate to the insurance industry. Aegon’s capital position is still comfortably above the Solvency II capital requirements. With a diversity of earnings generated from pensions, investments and protection, Aegon has both the business model and financial resources to cope with what could be an extended period of market volatility. We proactively mitigate the impact of market volatility with hedging strategies that protect our revenues.

No material adverse impacts on claims ratios have been observed from the coronavirus at this point, nor has any material credit rating migration been observed.

Aegon UK benefits from being part of a large, diversified international group with significant resources and financial strength. The Aegon Group has revenue-generating investments of €898 billion3 and almost 30 million customers4, figures which illustrate our global scale and stability.

1As at Feb 2020.
2As at November 2019.
3As at December 2019.
4As at December 2019.


Pension scams questions

Unfortunately the current market uncertainty makes financial scams more likely. It doesn’t matter if contact is made by post, email, text or telephone – you should be increasingly wary of anything pension-related that arrives unexpectedly. If you’re in any way uncomfortable, the safest thing to do is to hang up the phone, delete the message or ignore the mail. Be careful about using the unsubscribe option in emails as this could alert fraudsters that they’ve got the correct contact details for you. 

If you do decide to act on a letter or speak to someone who has called you about your pension, it’s important to remember that you’re in the driving seat. You can take control of the situation. 

Don’t:

  • give out your personal information if contacted unexpectedly;
  • be rushed into anything, take time to think;
  • sign anything unless you fully understand what you're signing up to, and 
  • let anyone into your house unless you’re sure they're genuine.

Do:

  • research any firm that contacts you;
  • check the FCA warning list;
  • get yourself regulated financial advice;
  • take your time over financial decisions, and
  • assess the tax implication of any decision you make.

Read more on how to protect yourself from pension scams.


Protection - questions

In line with Government advice, we’ve now moved to a fully working from home model. Please be assured that we’re working to maintain all of our core services.

Our phone lines are open Monday to Friday - please visit our contact us page for full details of how to get in touch with us.

We’re aware of the impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on both our personal and business lives.

It is possible to make changes to your protection policy, however as we’re not authorised to provide financial advice, we recommend that you speak to a financial adviser before doing this. If you don't have one, you can find one on the Money Advice Service website.

To support you through this time, we may be able to offer to defer your policy payments by up to three months. If this is something that you think could help you maintain your cover during this challenging time, please contact us as soon as possible to keep your cover in place. 

No – we want to reassure you that we’ve made no changes to our claims philosophy. This means that if you die or meet the definition for one of our critical illnesses as a result of coronavirus, we’ll assess your claim in the usual way.



Office closure questions

Yes, all Aegon offices are currently closed in line with government coronavirus guidance. Aegon staff have been asked to work from home at this time. 

The closure of our offices was something we anticipated, and we have detailed plans in place to minimise the impact on our customers while ensuring our employees remain as safe as possible.

Most of our services are unaffected by the office closure. Our phone lines are open Monday to Friday and online services are available 24 hours a day. Please go to the contact us page to see the best ways of getting in touch.

Please be reassured that we're prioritising key tasks such as ensuring we make payments out to customers and investing monies sent to us. There's no need to send us a reminder of your request – we'll be in touch shortly.

While the offices are closed it may take longer than usual for us to get back to you. We ask for your understanding and apologise for any inconvenience this may cause. 

We’re responding to email queries 8:30am – 5:30pm Monday to Friday, our phone lines are open Monday to Friday, and you can access our website and online services 24/7. Please visit our contact us page to see the best ways of getting in touch.

Our offices will reopen when government guidance allows this, and on condition that there are no additional local factors that make it sensible to keep one or more of our offices closed for longer.

We’ve implemented business continuity plans so we can continue to serve our customers, and we'll prioritise critical requests at busy times. 

Our phone lines are open Monday to Friday, all of our online services are operating as normal and we’re dealing with enquiries and transaction instructions online. You can find more about how to contact us online.

We’ll respond as quickly as we can, but wait times may be longer than usual while our offices are closed. We ask for your understanding and apologise for any inconvenience this may cause. To help manage demand, we’ll prioritise the most critical activities (such as deposits, withdrawals and investment instructions).

There's no need to send us a reminder of your request – we'll be in touch shortly.

Our phone lines are open Monday to Friday and you can also contact us online at any time.

While the offices are closed it may take longer than usual for us to get back to you. We ask for your understanding and apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

There's no need to send us a reminder of your request – we'll be in touch shortly.

We’ll continue to post updates to our dedicated coronavirus website and we’re doing everything we can to maintain our service to you. 

If you’re registered for an online service, please login in the usual way or visit our contact us page to find the right place to log in. You can use secure messaging in your online account to send us queries or instructions about your account.

If you’ve lost or forgotten your password, a reset link can be found on the login page for each product. 

If you’re not registered for an online service, you can register via the links on our contact us page.

If you’re having difficulty using our online services (including setting up or activating a new account online) or if you need to get in touch for any other reason, you can also submit a query online or by email using the details on the contact us page.

Were urging all of our customers to be vigilant at this time as the current market uncertainty makes financial scams more likely. Guidance on how to protect yourself against pension scams is available.

We’re doing everything we can to maintain our service to you, and the best way to get in touch in the current circumstances is by using our online forms. 

You can find out how to do this on the contact us page of our website. 

Please be reassured that we're prioritising key tasks such as ensuring we make payments out to customers and investing monies sent to us. There's no need to send us a reminder of your request – we'll be in touch shortly.

You can continue to do business with us online, at any time, and all critical services will continue to operate. Our phone lines are open Monday to Friday.

Please be reassured that we're prioritising key tasks such as ensuring we make payments out to customers and investing monies sent to us. There's no need to send us a reminder of your request – we'll be in touch shortly.

We’re prioritising customer queries so that we respond to the most urgent first, and we’re working hard to minimise the impact on you. While the offices are closed it may take longer than usual for us to get back to you. We ask for your understanding and apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

There's no need to send us a reminder of your request – we'll be in touch shortly.

Detailed instructions on how to do this can be found on the contact us page of our website. 

Where we outsource a service, we ensure that the appropriate business continuity planning is in place with our partners in the event of an Aegon, or third party, interruption. This is detailed in our business continuity plan, which is aligned to both Business Continuity Institute Good Practice and the Aegon Group requirements.