Insurance Post

Swift move to compensate Equitable Life policyholders

As I predicted during the campaign, the election of a Parliament with a Conservative-Liberal Democrat majority has led to the searing injustice of the Labour government's failure to compensate policyholders in the failed Equitable Life being remedied.

This has been a long-running saga but at its heart lay the failure of successive regulators to get to grips with the way Equitable Life over-extended itself and offered policyholders guarantees of returns that were never going to be sustainable. Enquiry after enquiry was set set up as the government tied to wriggle away from its responsibilities, which actually have their origins in the period of Conservative government in the early 1990s.

The insult to people who bought the Equitable Life promise in good faith was re-doubled when the almost instant compensation scheme for savers with the collapsed Icelandic banks was announced at the end of 2008. This merely fired up the determined and tenacious campaigners for justice for Equitable Life policyholders to new levels of activity and today's announcement owes much to their years of lobbying, mostly conducted with a remarkable degree of patience, intelligence and civility given that they were watching their fellow policyholders die stripped of some of the comforts of retirement that had saved so diligently for.

There will undoubtedly be some quibbles over the details of the scheme when it is announced in full but we should be glad this shameful episode in retail financial services is finally being drawn to a close.

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