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Autumn windfalls proving hard to catch

When Scottish Widows made the announcement it was to merge with the Lloyds TSB Group, not even it could foresee the administrative nightmare ahead. With 1.6 million members, the task of allocating correct windfall payments by the end of August was far too ambitious.

With numerous computer systems in use and problems in tracing policies dating back 30 years, Scottish Widows is now having to seek help from an outside task force.

Almost 49,000 Scottish Widows' policyholders are now caught up in the chaos that has descended on the former mutual Life Company. Many members are still waiting for the basic 500 fixed payment, never mind the ones that are querying their variable distribution. Some long-standing policies are thought to be short by a few thousand pounds.

In a statement made by Glen McGill of Scottish Widows for the Financial Mail, Scottish Widows had admitted there are problems with unpaid windfalls, but was tackling them as quickly as possible. At present the company cannot forecast when all the payments will be made.

A good way to check your variable distribution, is to consult the circular that was distributed with the voting pack early in the year. If the amount differs greatly from the estimates shown, it is worth contacting Scottish Widows directly.

If you are having problems claiming your basic windfall or believe your payment was not correctly calculated, follow the procedures below:

1. Phone the Scottish Widows helpline on 0345 600100 with your policy details

2. If you are not satisfied with your answers then write to the windfall team at Department DEM, Scottish Widows, 15 Dalkeith Road, Edinburgh EH16 5BU

3. Keep a list of all contacts made and names of people you have spoken to

4. Keep a record of all costs made in tracing your windfall

5. When payment is finally made, apply for compensation i.e. costs and interest lost from 1st August (You are entitled to interest on any payment above 500 that is delayed)

6. If you are still not satisfied, contact the Financial Ombudsman on 020 7216 0016.