Frequently asked questions

Here are some frequently asked questions from our customers about the impact of Covid-19

You’ll find information on some of the most common questions our customers are asking about the current situation.

Financial markets don’t like bad news. And the current Covid-19 pandemic is unfortunately no exception to that rule. So, you’ll no doubt be aware of the impact this is having on stock markets at the moment. And although downturns are not unusual, they can be very unsettling.

Since 1980 there have been many declines of 20% and more, lasting at least two months. The SARS outbreak in February 2003, Avian flu in 2006, the new strain of Swine flu in 2009, Ebola outbreaks of 2014 and 2018, and the Zika virus in 2016 all caused significant stock market turbulence.

Global stock markets weathered all of these and markets did recover over time. However, of course, what happened in the past isn’t always a guide to what might happen in the future.

It’s a very natural reaction to feel concerned when you see the value of your investments fall. Or perhaps to think that you need to do something.

Many financial experts will say it’s best to sit tight during times of market uncertainty. However only an adviser can let you know what’s the right thing for you to do.

Remember, if the value has fallen it’s only a potential loss. It’s only once you decide to cash in your investment, that it actually becomes a loss.

If you’re worried or thinking of making changes to your investment, we recommend you speak to a financial adviser. If you don’t already have an adviser, go to pru.co.uk/find-an-adviser/ where you’ll be able to find an adviser local to you.

If you’re struggling financially due to the pandemic, and are looking for help to get yourself back on track, it’s worth having a look at the Money Navigator tool. The Money Navigator tool is a free service offered through the Money Advice Service (MAS) a free and impartial money advice service set up by the government.

The information you’ll receive from Money Navigator can tell you more about the steps you can take to improve your financial situation. 

Due to the impact of Covid-19 we are experiencing higher than normal call volumes and requests.  We’re doing all we can to operate as near normal as possible in these difficult circumstances for our customers.  However, please bear with us while we process any request you make, as it may take a little longer than normal.

Scammers are taking advantage of the Covid-19 situation. The effect of the coronavirus pandemic on markets and personal finances is making people more susceptible to financial scams. Criminals see opportunity in the ongoing pandemic, when people are feeling confused and vulnerable.  It’s important to be on the lookout for scams to ensure you don’t become a victim. 

  • Beware of calls, texts, WhatsApp messages or emails from businesses and individuals offering great deals. Watch out for things like a free pension review, unsolicited messages on how to unlock cash from your pension, fantastic investment opportunities with ‘guaranteed returns’ or requests for you to move money into another account.

  • High pressure sales tactics are another tip off to a scam. Look out for any business or individual who is rushing you to agree to a deal or sign anything.

  • We have also seen ‘Good cause’ scams where scammers ask you to invest in good causes such as face masks and hand sanitiser often promising lucrative returns.

  • Watch out if you are asked for upfront fees. Take as much time as you need to avoid making rash decisions that you may regret.

  • Never give out your password, don’t click on links on emails from unknown senders, look out for typos, errors in grammar or punctuation and unexpected attachments.

  • On our dedicated scams hub you’ll find tips to protect yourself from investment scams, as well as the latest scams we’re aware of, using the Prudential name.

  • You should always get financial advice before making financial decisions. Scammers are very sophisticated and even the most well-informed people are at risk.

The FCA ScamSmart website offers helpful support on what you can do to spot investment fraud.

Pension bodies unite to reassure UK pension savers

To help reassure UK pensions savers, pension bodies have united to produce a guide addressing some of the most common questions at this time. You can see the guide at Pension Protection Fund (by clicking this link, you will be taken to a non-Prudential website).

Usually you have to be 55 or over to take your pension. The are some rare instances where you may be able to take it early, some examples are

  • Ill health, usually meaning you are unable to work, and unlikely to be able to return to work before normal retirement age. 
  • Serious ill health, where you have a life expectancy of less than 12 months. 

Both of the above would require evidence from a registered medical practitioner. 

We always recommend you speak to your financial adviser before taking any money from your pension.  

If someone contacts you unexpectedly and says they can help you access your pot before the age of 55 it’s likely to be a pension scam. You could lose your pension money and face a tax charge of up to 55% of the amount taken out or transferred plus huge additional fees.

Please see the question above that will help you spot a scam.

There are two types of workplace pension – the Defined Contribution (DC) pension and the Defined Benefit (DB) pension which is also sometimes called the Final Salary pension. If your employer goes out of business, each of these pensions provide a different type of protection.

Defined Contribution (DC) Pension

If you hold a DC pension, your fund is held by a pension provider – it’s not held by your employer. So, the pension provider is responsible for paying your pension. As long as your pension provider is regulated by the Financial Services Authority, you’re protected through the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). You can find out about the protection provided for your pension at FSCS.

Defined Benefit (DB) Pension

With a DB pension, your employer guarantees you a set level of income in retirement. The amount of income you receive is based on the time you’ve been in the scheme and either your final salary or your average earnings. It’s therefore the responsibility of your employer to ensure that there’s enough money to pay your pension when you retire.

If you’re in a DB scheme and your employer goes out of business, the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) offers some relief. Set up by the government more than a decade ago, the Fund takes over the pension schemes of insolvent companies. You can learn more and see the eligibility criteria at Pension Protection Fund.

Like many other types of investments, you may have seen a reduction in the value of your drawdown plan.

If you are currently taking an income this means your money may not last as long as you previously expected. We know everyone has different circumstances at the moment. However, it may make sense, if you can, to consider reducing the amount you’re withdrawing to give your plan the chance to last longer.

You can use this Retirement Income Planner to give you an idea of how any changes to your income will affect how long your money might last.

We would recommend you speak to your financial adviser, if you have questions about your investment or if you’re considering  changing anything. If you don’t have an adviser visit pru.co.uk/find-an-adviser/ to find one.

Depending on where your plan is invested (stock markets, property, bonds, for example) you might have seen a reduction in your fund value.

The uncertainty surrounding our economy has led to significant falls in stock markets, which can impact the value of pensions and investments linked to these markets.

The extent of any drop will depend on how your fund is invested. We’ve seen reports of falls of up to 30% or more in stock markets. However, if your money is spread across a number of different investment types (for example if you’re invested in PruFund or our With-Profits fund), you might be more protected from the full extent of this. 

With any investment, there is always the chance they can go down, as well as up, in value. And there’s no certainty that you’ll get back the amount you put in. 

If you’re worried or thinking of making changes to your investment, we recommend you speak to a financial adviser. If you don’t already have an adviser, go to pru.co.uk/find-an-adviser where you’ll be able to find an independent adviser local to you.

The uncertainty surrounding our economy has led to significant falls in the stock market, which can impact the value of endowments linked to these markets.

With any investment, there is always the chance they can go down as well as up in value. And, there’s no certainty that you’ll get back the amount you put in.

If this policy is  your only means of paying off your mortgage, we would recommend that as a first step you contact your mortgage lender as soon as possible to let them know that your endowment policy may mature with a lower value than expected.

We understand you may be worried, we recommend you speak to a financial adviser. If you don’t already have an adviser, go to pru.co.uk/find-an-adviser where you’ll be able to find an adviser local to you.

If you’d like to view the value of your pensions and investments with us, with most plans you can do so by logging in to our online services. Values are normally updated every working day.

You can easily view your updated plan value, plan details, view documents and use our online chat to send a message.

If you’re not already registered, you can do so at online services.

Yes, we’re available to help and advise you on any pensions and investments you have.

We have a team of advisers across the UK. You can talk to us by video call, giving you a flexible, safe and convenient way to meet whenever you want. Or if you'd prefer, we can simply chat over the phone – whatever suits you best. We'll create a financial plan that's personal to you and your circumstances and recommend the right solutions to meet your needs. We offer a restricted advice service.

If you like you can book an appointment now.

Yes. Financial advisers can accept applications without needing to come out and get a signature. This means you can complete the application without leaving home or anyone coming into your home.

Check with your financial adviser if this applies to what you want to do.

If you are thinking about your options in these uncertain times it is very important to speak to your financial adviser, if you have one. If you have a Retirement Account with us, your adviser will be able to do a wide range of things for you online. This is likely to be quicker and easier than calling us directly during this very busy time. And more importantly your adviser will be helping you make the right decision for your money. Your adviser is able to do the following things on our online system:

Switch your funds

Change how often and the amount you contribute to your pension/investment

Stop any payments

Take money out on your behalf

Change your details

We understand that these are very difficult times, and we will do all we possibly can to help support you. It may be possible to reduce/stop your contributions, but please check your Product Terms & Conditions in the first instance. You would have received these when you started your plan. You may also find details on pru.co.uk/existing-customers/products.

Before making any changes we always recommend you speak to your financial adviser. If you don’t have a financial adviser, you can find an adviser on pru.co.uk/find-an-adviser.

Depending on your product, you might be able to switch the funds your money is currently invested in.

It’s important you think about your long-term needs and circumstances. Before you decide  you’d like to switch your investment, we recommend you speak to a financial adviser who’ll be able to explain all of your options to you.

If you don’t already have an adviser, go to pru.co.uk/find-an-adviser/ where you’ll be able to find an adviser local to you.

For more information on switching please refer to your Key Features Document you would have received when you started your plan.

The With-Profits Fund aims to smooth some of the extreme highs and lows of short-term investment performance to provide a more stable return.

We achieve this by holding back some of the investment returns in good years with the aim of using this to support bonus rates* in the years when investment returns are lower.

This offers some protection against bad market conditions. However, bear in mind that smoothing will not stop the value of your plan reducing if investment returns have been low.

You also benefit from a fund which invests in a broad range of investment types. This means you don’t have all your eggs in one basket and may not suffer from the full impact of stock market falls

If you’d like more information on our With-Profits Funds, please go to pru.co.uk/investments/investment-fund-range/with-profits/

*Annual/Regular and Final Bonuses are the way you receive your share of the profits of the Fund. Different types of plan receive different bonus rates. Note that bonus rates aren’t guaranteed

You can find more detailed, technical information about how we manage our Funds in our Principles and Practices of Financial Management (PPFM) document, which is available on our website: pru.co.uk/ppfm.  You will also find customer friendly versions particular to your plan type.

The PruFund range of funds aim to grow your money over the medium to long term (5 to 10 years or more), while protecting you from some of the short-term ups and downs of direct stockmarket investments by using an established smoothing process.

Like most stockmarket-based investments, the value of the underlying funds changes daily, sometimes increasing and sometimes decreasing. We aim to reduce the impact of these movements over the short term by using a smoothing process.

This means that while you won’t benefit from the full upside of any potential stockmarket rises you won’t suffer from the full effects of any downfalls either.

You also benefit from a fund which invests in a broad range of investment types. This means you don’t have all your eggs in one basket and may not suffer from the full impact of stock market falls.

If you’d like more information on our PruFund Funds, please go to pru.co.uk/investments/investment-fund-range/pru-fund.

You can find more detailed, technical information about how we manage our Funds in our Principles and Practices of Financial Management (PPFM) document, which is available on our website:  pru.co.uk/ppfm - You will also find customer friendly versions particular to your plan type.

We want to reassure you that we are managing your savings in our usual expert way and that we are continuing to make annuity payments as normal. There is no need to worry or take any action. 

Banks and Building societies are essential businesses allowed to stay open during lockdown, so your local branch should be open. However, paying a cheque into your account might be more difficult if you’re self-isolating or unable to travel to your bank. If this is the case, many banks offer online services to enable customers to carry on banking business remotely. Contact your bank or visit their website to learn what online services are available to you. 

Bank transfer is another fast secure way to receive your annuity payment. You won’t need to go into the bank and you’ll have access to your money immediately. To set up a bank transfer, simply call us on 0345 640 0000 or send us a secure message through our online service. You need to be registered to send an online message. If you’re not registered for our online service, it’s quick and easy to do. Go to pru.co.uk/online to find out more.

You should speak to your mortgage provider or use their website to find out more in the first instance. They may be able to offer a payment holiday or another way of helping you. The government have announced a range of measures to help and have promised more, you will find more details on gov.uk.

You should speak to your loan provider or check their website to find out more in the first instance. They may be able to offer a payment holiday or another way of helping you. If you agree a payment holiday with your lender, they should record these in such a way that will not impact on your credit score.

You can also get information from the Money Advice Service. This is a free and impartial service, set up by the government to help you understand and improve your finances. You can call them on 0800 138 7777.

Speak to your landlord in the first instance. You will also find lots of you useful information on emergency rules that have been enforced on gov.uk.

You can also get information from the Money Advice Service. This is a free and impartial service, set up by the government to help you understand and improve your finances. You can call them on 0800 138 7777.

The government have announced plans to introduce a grant you can use. The scheme can be used if you're self-employed or a member of a partnership in the UK and have lost income due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

Find out more on gov.uk about this scheme and when payments may start.

We appreciate your patience during these extraordinary times.

We’re following Government advice and mostly working from home to look after our people so they can continue to give you the best possible service.

Our priority is to ensure we provide a telephony service to our more vulnerable customers and those most needing urgent help.

This may mean, if you try to call us, you’ll experience longer wait times. Rather than call us, you may prefer to use our online services during this time. If you’re not already registered it’s simple to register – Online Services. Once registered you can quickly see your plan information and value.

Your state pension is unaffected by fluctuations to the stock market, so you will not see any change to your benefit. Find out more about the state pension at gov.uk.

Our mail might be impacted, and we will do all we can to minimise any impact on you.  We will still be working with Royal Mail and our distribution partners to make sure all mail continues in and out of Prudential, though there might be delays.

If you live overseas you may  find any mail we send you may take longer than usual to arrive. 

You should check with your Financial Adviser, they may be able to complete your request online. If you don’t have an adviser visit pru.co.uk/find-an-adviser/ to find an adviser. 

We always recommend you speak to your financial adviser if you have concerns about your investment or if you’re thinking about changing it. If you don’t have an adviser visit pru.co.uk/find-an-adviser/ to find a financial adviser.

Our Online Services

During these times you might prefer to use our Online Services. You can use these to check the value of your policy and get other information about your plan.

It’s important to get financial advice

It’s more important than ever to get financial advice. If you’re worried, or thinking of making changes to your pensions or investments, we recommend you speak to your financial adviser.

If you don't have an adviser, you can find one below:

Prudential Financial Planning

We have a team of advisers across the UK. You can talk to us by video call, giving you a flexible, safe and convienient way to meet whenever you want. Or if you'd prefer, we can simply chat over the phone – whatever suits you best.

We offer a restricted advice service.

Book an appointment

Unbiased

For independent advice you can visit Unbiased who can help you find an adviser in your local area. Many advisers will be able to meet you through a video meeting or a call, during these times. 

 

Visit Unbiased