How to find lost pensions
If you have lost track of a personal or workplace pension, you aren’t alone. Fortunately, tracing that pension is easy. What you need to do will depend on how much you remember about your lost pension.
There is around £19.4bn sitting in 1.6 million lost pensions, according to the Association of British Insurers. That works out at an average £13,000 of retirement savings sitting in a forgotten pension. So, it’s well worth taking the time to hunt down any forgotten pensions as they could provide a very important boost to your retirement income. Read on to learn how to track down lost pensions.
Have I lost a pension?
Losing track of a pension is remarkably easy. In fact, research by The People’s Pension found that one in five people have forgotten about a pension and three in five of us don’t know where all the details of our pension savings are.
The most common way to lose track is if you forget to give your pension provider your new address when you move house. If they can’t get hold of you then you will stop receiving annual statements or other correspondence from them. Then, over the years, it is easy to forget about that pension altogether.
How to trace a pension?
The good news is tracking down your lost pensions is a fairly straightforward process. What you need to do will depend on how much you remember about your lost pension.
If you know you had a personal pension with a specific pension provider but can’t find the details for it then you need to get in touch with that pension firm. Try to give them as much detail as possible to help them check their records. If possible, this should include your policy number, date of birth, national insurance number as well as the date you started the pension.
If you’ve forgotten your national insurance number you should be able to find it on past payslips, P60s or any correspondence you have about tax, pensions or benefits. Otherwise, contact the National Insurance helpline on 0300 200 3500.
Not sure who you had a pension with? If it was a workplace pension, then your old employer should be able to tell you who the pension provider was. They will need some information from you to help work out which pension scheme you would have been in. Be ready to tell them your national insurance number as well as the dates you worked for the company and were in the scheme.
You can also make use of the Pension Tracing Service if you remember the names of any employers or pension providers you may have had through your career.
What is the Pension Tracing Service?
The Pension Tracing Service is a free scheme operated by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
You will need to provide details of your previous employers then it will search a database of 200,000 workplace and personal pensions.
You can start a search with the Pension Tracing Service at Gov.uk/find-pension-contact-details or by calling 0800 731 0193.
What should I do when I find a lost pension?
Once you have tracked down a lost pension there are several questions you should ask your pension provider. Start by asking for a statement so you can see what the current value of the pot is and what your retirement income from this pension is likely to be.
Check how your pension is invested and ask what options there are for changing the investments.
Next, ask them what fees and charges you are paying for the management of the pension. Compare these with what you could pay elsewhere and consider transferring your pension if the fees are very high. If you are considering transferring your pension, ask if you would pay any exit fees.
Finally, and very importantly, check if there is a nominated recipient for any death benefits from the pension. This could be an ex-partner so make sure it’s up to date.
» MORE: How to prepare for retirement
How can I transfer my pensions into one pot?
Once you’ve found all your pensions you may want to consider bringing them all together into one. This can simplify your pension admin and make it less likely that you’ll lose one of them again. But there can be significant drawbacks from high exit or transfer fees, or you could lose benefits such as a guaranteed annuity rate.
Transferring a pension is a big decision so it can be a good idea to get professional advice before you start moving your retirement savings. An independent financial adviser can help you work out if consolidating your pensions is the best option for you.
Be careful too as transfers attract a lot of pension scams as fraudsters are keen to part you from your savings.
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Ruth is a freelance journalist with 15 years of experience writing for national newspapers, magazines and websites. Specialising in savings, investments, pensions and property. Read more