Coronavirus – frequently asked questions

For customers, employers, trustees and intermediaries

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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 three categories as outlined below:

  • Office closures – affecting all three Aegon UK sites from 24 March 2020.
  • Market volatility – the coronavirus outbreak and its effects on the markets.
  • Protection - answering your questions.

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.

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 will be unaffected by the office closure. However, we can’t accept incoming calls at this time. Please go to the contact us page to see alternative ways of contacting us.

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. 

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 will prioritise critical requests at busy times. 

With all sites closed, you won’t be able to reach us by telephone. All 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.

You can contact us online. 

Please note that while offices are closed we’re unable to accept any calls to our contact centres. Instead we’re asking our customers to get in touch online via the contact us link above.

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. 

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, and all critical services will continue to operate. However, our contact centres are currently closed. Please make alternative arrangements to send any instructions digitally. You can find more about how to contact us online. 

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. 

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. 

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.

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 cannot 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.

The risk management process within the fund means a portion of its investments are replaced with lower-risk assets like cash when volatility is too high. We believe this process can limit the impact of sharp and sustained market falls. As at 16 March 2020, due to the sustained volatility in the markets, the risk management process was invoked with the aim of keeping the fund within its pre-defined risk parameters.

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. The added safeguard doesn’t mean this fund won’t fall in value. BlackRock, the underlying fund manager, may choose to use its discretion to de-risk or re-risk by amounts other than those stated.

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 cannot 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 19 March 2020) has meant that annuity rates have also fallen. 

While there’s no guarantee, around if and when fund values and annuity rates will bounce back, you can 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 cannot 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 cannot give financial advice.

Aegon remains in a financially solvent and stable position. Business risk and market volatility – including extreme falls like those seen in recent weeks – are things that we plan for as part of our usual business processes.

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.

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.

Currently, we can only receive inbound calls into our Claims team on 03456 00 04 93 between 9am and 3pm (call charges will vary) – no other lines are open

We apologise for the inconvenience this will cause you, but we’ve put in place the following interim arrangements so we can maintain the core services we deliver to you and your business:

  • The first point of contact should be through email. You’ll find all our contact details at aegon.co.uk/contact, which we’ll continue to update with key information to help you manage your business with us.

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.

Protection - additional information for intermediaries

  • You can continue to quote, apply and track all in-progress applications using our protection online service, and access all the protection documents and literature you’ll need in our protection document library
  • The first point of contact should be through email. You’ll find all our contact details at aegon.co.uk/contact, which we’ll continue to update with key information to help you manage your business with us.
  • We’ll provide regular updates as we adapt to these new ways of working.

Please remember that our relationship management teams will continue to be available to support you – they should be your first point of contact if you have any enquiries.

As you’ll no doubt understand, the medical profession is currently under a lot of pressure due to the coronavirus outbreak. As a result, we’re experiencing significant disruption processing cases that need medical evidence – in particular, our ability to get GP reports. As you’d expect, medical agencies are also no longer carrying out face-to-face appointments.

So as not to put even more strain on GP resources, we’ve decided to temporarily stop requesting medical information from GPs at this time. As we still require medical information for referred applications, we’re now postponing decisions for all applications requiring medical evidence. 

We’ll progress all other applications that don’t need medical evidence, as usual.

You'll find our standard medical limits in our Underwriting limits guide. This will help you see what levels of cover we'll potentially be able to process without any medical requirements. 

No – we don’t currently have plans to increase or decrease our underwriting limits.

Yes – for applications already submitted to us that we’re waiting for medical information for, you can email us at dedicatednewbusiness@aegon-service.co.uk to ask us to reduce the benefit amount. We’ll cancel existing requests for medical information and won’t chase them. Please don’t submit a new application to us as this will cause further delays.

Our email system and the way we deal with data internally is secure. However we’re unable to ensure the security of emails before they reach us. Please consider this when sending us sensitive information.

Yes – we’ve added a new medical question to our application to understand your clients’ personal circumstances in relation to the coronavirus. This allows us to identify those who have tested positive, are having to self-isolate because they’re displaying symptoms or have been in contact with someone who has or is suspected to have coronavirus. You’ll have to answer this for all new applications across all our protection benefits.

Yes – you should continue to tell us of any changes to your clients’ circumstances between the date they answered the application questions and the start date of their policy to make sure your clients’ cover is valid.

No – as we’re unable to receive medical information, we’re temporarily suspending this service. We’re working to update our systems to temporarily remove this option. 

Yes – if your client meets all of the usual free cover criteria, as outlined in our Key features of Personal Protection, and the cause of their claim is as a result of coronavirus, we would pay their claim.

No – as explained in our key features documents, accidental death benefit only covers death as a result of an accident. Therefore, coronavirus isn’t covered.

No - unfortunately due to coronavirus developments overseas, we're currently unable to offer cover if the insured person is resident outside the UK.