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Fitch Ratings-London-14 December 2015: Fitch Ratings has affirmed Lloyd’s of London’s (Lloyd’s) and Lloyd’s Insurance Company (China) Ltd’s Insurer Financial Strength (IFS) ratings at ‘AA-‘. It has also affirmed the Society of Lloyd’s Long-term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at ‘A+’ and its subordinated bonds at ‘A-‘. The Outlooks are Stable.

KEY RATING DRIVERS

The affirmation reflects Lloyd’s significant market position in both insurance and reinsurance classes, robust risk-adjusted capitalisation, low financial leverage and strong underwriting performance. These positives are somewhat offset by Lloyd’s fairly high exposure to international catastrophes.

Lloyd’s wrote GBP15.5bn of premiums in 1H15, an increase of 7% (1H14: GBP14.5bn) over the equivalent period in 2014. Underwriting performance remained in line with the prior year despite continued pressure on rates. Lloyd’s reported a 1H15 combined ratio of 89.5%, up 2.1pp from 1H14 (87.4%) due to increased major claims and price softening.

Fitch recognises that Lloyd’s continues to face a number of headwinds that will also test the wider (re)insurance industry. These include a persistently low yield investment environment and softening prices across certain major (re)insurance classes. The conservative and hence lower yield investment portfolio held by the Lloyd’s Market means we view a deterioration in technical profits as the greatest risk to earnings across the rating horizon.

Fitch believes that Lloyd’s exposure to worldwide natural and manmade catastrophes is somewhat higher than its peers. This is reflected in Lloyd’s combined ratio being more sensitive to catastrophic events than peers. However, market oversight by Lloyd’s Performance Management Directorate provides Fitch with increased confidence that cross-cycle earnings volatility is effectively managed.

Fitch’s assessment of Lloyd’s risk adjusted capitalisation is ‘Very Strong’ according to the agency’s Prism Factor Based Model (FBM). Fitch expects capitalisation to continue to support the ratings, assuming future losses fall within limits expected by Lloyd’s.

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Emergency payments made to home insurance customers affected by the floods. Alternative accommodation and 24 hour helpline* to support customers. AXA proactively contacts and advises customers at risk.

The company will ensure that customers forced out of their homes by flooding caused by Storm Desmond will be placed in alternative accommodation as soon as possible and receive an emergency payment of £1,000 to help with any immediate issues they face.

AXA’s claims teams will continue to provide a round the clock service to handle the expected increase in call volumes and brokers and customers will be able to report claims and seek help and advice from our 24 hour claims helpline*.

AXA has been using geocoding technology to identify customers in some areas deemed to be at high risk of flood alerts to enable the company to contact households proactively and react as quickly as possible to the damage. In the event that an area is evacuated by the authorities, AXA will pay costs towards emergency accommodation even if the property is not subsequently flooded.

Amanda Blanc, CEO AXA Insurance commented:
“So far, although it appears these floods have not affected as many geographical areas as previous events, the nature of the flooding means that the damage to people’s homes and property is severe in some cases.

“Many flooded homes are under standing water which means that once the floodwaters have receded, the property will have to be decontaminated, all affected fixtures and fittings stripped out and the dry out process completed. This obviously takes some time and we are getting customers into alternative accommodation as a priority. We are also making cash payments of £1,000 to help customers pay for the essentials. These payments will be in customers’ accounts today.

“We have a large team of loss adjusters on the ground who are now acting on claims as a priority. We urge any customers who have a claim to make to get in touch as a matter of urgency as time is of the essence to get the process started. We are using our geo-coding technology to identify and proactively contact customers to register their claims.

“The flood waters are receding now but there is another band of rain predicted tomorrow which looks like it will hit down the spine of the country. We are managing volumes of claims at the moment and have extra capacity both on the ground and in claims centres should the situation deteriorate.”

In recent weeks AXA has been sharing advice for those who are at risk of flooding:

– Turn off your water, gas and electricity
– Unplug all electrical items – store smaller items somewhere high or upstairs
– Move personal possessions and valuables upstairs
– If you can, roll up rugs and carpets and put them upstairs
– Leave internal doors open
– If there is no time to take down curtains, hang them over the rail so they are kept above the flood water
– Weigh down manhole covers outside to prevent them floating away and leaving a hazardous hole
– If you are in a real danger zone you should be packing a bag with essentials including medical supplies, mobile phone charger, insurance documents and sentimental possessions – like your favourite photographs.

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New York Life has announced the appointment of Senior Vice President Mark Madgett to its Executive Management Committee, effective immediately. Mr. Madgett will assume the role of Head of the Agency Department on January 1, 2016.

The Executive Management Committee is comprised of New York Life’s senior executive leadership and assists the CEO in setting policy for the company.

Chairman and CEO Ted Mathas said, “Mark is a New York Life veteran who began as an agent and became one of our top field managers. For the past year he has been here in the Home Office working closely with Mark Pfaff and making excellent contributions. Mark will be joining an extraordinarily strong leadership team. We look forward to having Mark’s enthusiasm, field experience and knowledge as a regular part of our deliberations on the Executive Management Committee.”

On January 1, 2016, Mr. Madgett will succeed Mark Pfaff as head of the Agency Department, which manages the company’s field force of 12,000 licensed agents in cities and towns across the country. New York Life’s career agents recently recorded an 11 percent increase in sales of individual recurring premium life insurance for the first three quarters of 2015. These strong results reflect growth across the company’s full suite of permanent life products, every geographic region and in the cultural markets, all backed by one of the industry’s largest networks of local agents.

When Mr. Madgett assumes the leadership of the Agency Department, he will begin reporting to New York Life President John Kim. Mr. Pfaff, an executive vice president, is retiring from the company at year-end 2015 following 30 years of distinguished service

Mr. Madgett, 54, joined New York Life as an agent in Colorado in 1986. He moved into sales management in Denver in 1992, rising in the ranks to managing partner of New York Life general offices in the state of Washington beginning in 1998. Mr. Madgett moved to the company’s Home Office in Manhattan in September 2014, where he has been working closely with Mr. Pfaff in managing the Agency Department.

Mr. Madgett received a Bachelor of Science degree in business from Saint Mary’s College of California in 1983.

Mr. Mathas expressed appreciation to Mr. Pfaff for his three decades of service to New York Life, including ten years as head of Agency. “Mark has had a tremendous career with New York Life, as an agent, as a manager in the field, and as a Home Office executive. His tenure as head of Agency has been nothing short of remarkable. Under Mark’s leadership, New York Life’s career agents have kept us at the front of our industry in providing policyowners and customers with the solutions and service they need for the protection of their families. His competitive intensity and personal integrity guiding the daily activities of our career agents, has led to outstanding growth in our productive agent force, up 42 percent since 2005, when he took over the leadership of Agency.”

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Link to Fitch Ratings’ Report: 2016 Outlook: German Life Insurance

Fitch Ratings-Frankfurt/London-14 December 2015: Fitch Ratings says in a new report that the sector outlook for German life insurance, an indicator of fundamental trends, remains negative, given a challenging operating environment. However, Fitch believes that the pressures on German life companies are manageable, yielding a Stable Rating Outlook.

The German life insurance industry is operating in a difficult environment of low investment yields and earnings pressure. Market interest rates are likely to remain at historical lows for longer and constitute the biggest challenge for the German life insurance industry, in light of significant asset-liability duration mismatches.

Nevertheless the Stable Rating Outlooks of German life insurers are supported by their diverse business mix, significant earnings from non interest-sensitive sources and still fairly strong capital positions. Fitch has simulated run-off scenarios with different assumptions and found that rated German life insurers will be able to meet their guarantees for a prolonged period, even if interest rates remain low, albeit at the expense of profitability. Fitch will continue to monitor developments.

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The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), one of the nation’s largest mutual life insurers and a leading provider of employee benefits, today announced its Board of Directors approved the payment of $836 million in dividends1 to the company’s individual life policyholders in 2016, representing the largest in company history.

In addition, the Dividend Interest Rate, which is the investment component of the dividend, will continue to stay at 6.05% in 2016, as it was in 2015.

“At Guardian, we strive to be the trusted partner, delivering financial security how, when, and where our clients prefer,” said Deanna M. Mulligan, Guardian’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Our ability to pay a competitive dividend to our policyholders every year since 1868 demonstrates the financial security we provide to our clients and the long-term financial strength2 of our company.”

The SCOR group announces its divestment from companies deriving more than 50% of their turnover from coal and undertakes, across its entire asset portfolio, to make no new financial investements in such companies in the future.

SCOR has been committed to the fight against climate change for many years: a member of the United Nations Global Compact since 2003, and a signatory of the Geneva Association’s Kyoto Statement since 2009, SCOR has been a founding member of the Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSI) since 2012. Since May 2015, Denis Kessler, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of SCOR, has co-chaired the working group put into place by the Geneva Association on extreme events and climate risks alongside Shuzo Sumi, Chairman of Tokio Marine. On 19 November, 2015, the Group reaffirmed its support for the Geneva Association statement on climate resilience and adaptation (see the press release published by the Geneva Association).

On 9 and 10 June 2015, the Toulouse School of Economics, the Geneva Association and the SCOR Corporate Foundation for Science organised an international scientific seminar at SCOR’s Paris offices on the issue of the anticipation and insurability of climate risks. This seminar brought together economists, climatologists, natural catastrophe modelling experts, actuaries and insurance and reinsurance professionals. More information is available on the event’s dedicated website
http://scor-climaterisks-2015.com/.

Finally, on 26 November 2015, SCOR pledged to actively fight climate change alongside large French corporations (French Business Climate Pledge / French Business Climate Pledge – Press Release). As part of the French Business Climate Pledge, SCOR reaffirmed its proactive promotion of additional initiatives in several areas of its activity, in terms of both mitigating and adapting to climate change. SCOR is committed to further embedding these initiatives in its activities by 2020 (for more information, see the appendix to this press release).

Denis Kessler, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of SCOR, comments: “As a reinsurer, the SCOR group makes a significant contribution to the prevention of climate risks, not only within the framework of our contracts, which encourage clients to reduce their exposure to risk, but also in terms of our investments in projects that aim to improve infrastructure or finance technological innovations geared towards the protection of the environment. Through its activity, SCOR contributes to the improved assessment and prevention of climate risks, and to greater economic resilience in the event of loss. Moreover, the Group supports climate risk research through our R&D centres and through the SCOR Corporate Foundation for Science.”

Consumers could face significantly higher hospital prices if a proposed merger between Wellmont Health System and Mountain States Health Alliance is finalized, according to a new report from leading economists analyzing the potential transaction and its impact on patients’ costs.

The study, conducted by Michael Doane and Luke Froeb of Competition Economics LLC and commissioned by America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), found consolidation of this magnitude could lead to significant anticompetitive effects in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.

“Consumers depend on high-quality, affordable care, and anticompetitive provider consolidation that drives up costs and limits choices for individuals and families fails to deliver on this promise,” AHIP President and CEO Marilyn Tavenner said. “Law enforcement officials should review this merger closely and ensure consumers are protected.”

Key findings from the report include:

The modeling framework used by regulatory agencies to evaluate hospital mergers predicts huge post-merger price increases.
In the Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee areas that comprise the overwhelming majority of the inpatient draw (approximately 90 percent), the proposed merger would give the new entity a dominating 77 percent market share.
An analysis of inpatients’ hospital choices shows that the merged hospitals are each other’s closest competitors. If Wellmont were to close, 75 percent of its patients would go to a Mountain States hospital. Similarly, if Mountain States were to close, 72 percent of its patients would go to a Wellmont facility.
The report predicts that any potential efficiencies or quality improvements of the merger, though not specifically analyzed, would have to be significant in order to offset the magnitude of the loss of competition, stating “economic analyses of past hospital mergers have not found projected efficiencies to be large enough to offset anticompetitive effects.”

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The Malaysia local subsidiary (MSIG Malaysia) of Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Company, Limited (Yasuyoshi Karasawa, President) was awarded the General Insurance Company of the Year at the 19th Asia Insurance Industry Awards, announced in November 2015.

MSIG Malaysia was recognized as being the most outstanding insurance company in the Asian insurance market during
fiscal 2014.

MSIG Malaysia received this award in recognition of our continuous efforts to provide the best insurance services that meet diverse customers’ needs in Asia, to further expand in the region and
achieve sustainable growth.

1: Award
19th Asia Insurance Industry Awards 2015
General Insurance Company of the Year (most Outstanding Insurance Company in Asia)

2: Basis for the Award
(1) Ranked among top three in major class of insurance by expanding the market share under the unpredictable economic environment.
(2) Focusing on customer satisfaction by developing First-of-its-kind online plat form ,”Take it easy” and mobile application “Home Assist.”
(3) Ensuring financial soundness and proper operation by promoting of ERM (Enterprise Risk Management) and play a strong leadership role in the Malaysian insurance market.

3: About the Award
(1) The Asia Insurance Industry Award
・The largest insurance industry contest in Asia, sponsored annually by Asia Insurance Review, an insurance specialty magazine in Asia 2015 market the 19 year of the contest.
・Awards are presented in 15 categories for general insurance, life insurance and reinsurance companies , insurance education institutes , brokers , etc. Awards are on by a panel of 29 judges from top position in insurance regulatory agencies, insurance companies.
(2) General Insurance Company of the Year
・An award given to the insurance company who has made the most impressive mark on the Asian general insurance industry. The award was presented to the Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance in 2005, and MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings in 2011.

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Scope’s European banking 2016 outlook report highlights the evolving dynamics of the sector driven by the new regulatory architecture, advances in digitalisation and a challenging macro environment; outlook for banks rated is on average stable to positive

In its third annual outlook report for the European banking industry Scope Ratings notes that the sector should continue to get safer in 2016, materially strengthened by several years of vigorous regulatory action. The rating agency points out that the ‘new normal’ in banking increasingly entails simpler and more transparent business models, a more robust risk management culture, reassuring prudential metrics and conduct practices, and last but not least appropriate risk-adjusted returns. The report highlights why Scope’s bank analysts believe that there are no contradictions among these goals.

The agency considers that a partial regulatory rollback in 2016 is neither likely nor desirable. The new regulations have been the real game changer, leading over several years of pain and uncertainty to the successful rebooting of most large European banks. In this respect, Scope believes that the recently established Single Supervisory Mechanism is a factor which will lead to the industry’s strengthening and should reassure investors.

Nevertheless, earnings, notably top-line revenue growth, will remain the sector’s Achilles’ heel in 2016. Net interest margins are likely to potentially weaken further against the backdrop of low-for-longer rates (negative in several European markets). Loan volume growth may remain less vibrant, as in parts of Europe where economic recovery moves forward bank credit is no longer the predominant driver – as it had been in the previous cycles. While many large banks have been able to boost their earnings from fees – notably asset management and bancassurance – Scope cautions that these segments are becoming increasingly competitive and the growth of the asset management industry may not continue at the same pace as in recent years.

Against this background, cost improvements will remain central to bank strategies, with management teams believing that they can have a stronger hand in cost controls than in top-line revenue growth. And yet, adds Scope, banks will need to continue to invest in 2016 in compliance capacity and especially in technology – both to face the digital competitive challenge and to strengthen cybersecurity.

Business model adjustments will continue
Scope believes that certain investment banking activities will continue to be scaled back, especially trading and other secondary-market areas. Second-tier players have largely exited investment banking and are not likely to return any time soon. The large European participants, however, should remain fully engaged in global capital markets, albeit on a lesser and more streamlined scale and each to a different degree.

Regarding retail business models, Scope warns that, even when they are well equipped and prepared for the digital age, traditional banks are still facing structural disruptive threats from new competitors – fintechs and/or P2P/B2P platforms, and nimbler banks as well.

Scope adds that it sees little appetite in 2016 for large-bank consolidation, especially cross-border. The challenge of coping with new regulations and compliance, as well as economic and socio-political headwinds have cooled considerably the M&A appetite of formerly expanding banks. Cultivating one’s own backyard is for bank management teams more important these days than expanding into new hills and valleys. The ‘hunter’ CEO is being replaced with the ‘farmer’ CEO, note the Scope analysts.

And yet, the rating agency considers that a new wave of bank consolidation may and should nevertheless occur in Europe in 2016 and beyond, more driven this time by bank supervisors who are increasingly concerned by the future of a multitude of smaller banks with an non-diversified revenue base which is shrinking (savings, cooperatives or private) and by some of the larger banks with unconvincing business models.

Scope warns that overcapacity is a threat not only for investment banking but also in retail and commercial banking – as there is simply too much supply compared to the more streamlined post-crisis demand. In the analysts’ opinion further technology advances (smartphone payments, robo-advisors, etc.) will worsen the supply-demand imbalance even further.

The agency also expects significant issuance by Europe’s larger European banks during 2016 to move towards the required TLAC and especially MREL coverage requirements, with junior securities but also senior unsecured debt. Taking note of the market debate about the safety of the latter, Scope comments that resolution for a large European bank with decent-to-good financials is an extremely remote scenario, as the SSM and any other European supervisor will do its utmost and then some to prevent a bank from actually getting there.

The 26-page report is titled ‘Better Regulatory Clarity but New Challenges Emerge: European Banking Outlook for 2016 and Beyond’ and is authored by the agency’s bank rating team. It includes a one-page summary and a full list of all banks and bank instruments publicly rated by Scope.

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American International Group, Inc. (NYSE: AIG) today announced that its Board of Directors has amended AIG’s By-laws, enabling eligible shareholders to include their own director nominees in AIG’s proxy statement for its annual meeting. The Board proactively adopted these amendments, reflecting its strong commitment to corporate governance best practices.

“We are pleased to enact proxy access for our shareholders,” said Douglas M. Steenland, Non-Executive Chairman of the Board of AIG. “The AIG Board remains committed to strong corporate governance and continually evaluates AIG’s corporate governance practices to be consistent with the best interests of our shareholders.”

Under the By-law amendments, a shareholder or group of up to 20 shareholders who own at least 3% of AIG’s outstanding shares of Common Stock continuously for at least three years may nominate the greater of two candidates or 20% of the Board, provided the shareholders and nominees satisfy the requirements specified in the By-laws.

Growing numbers of UK adults are misjudging their health, according to Aviva’s Autumn Health Check UK Report.

Over a third (36%) of UK adults who are classified as obese – with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 30 – believe they are in very good or excellent health, despite being at a higher risk of developing life-threatening diseases such as type II diabetes and heart disease. This figure has risen by four percentage points in the past 18 months from 32% (Aviva Health Check UK report, Spring 2014), suggesting more UK adults are ignorant of their current health status.

Among those UK adults considered overweight – with a BMI between 25 and 29.9 – more than half (53%) believe they are healthy, up from 49% in Spring 2014. Only two fifths of UK adults have a healthy weight (43%) – equivalent to a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 – down from 44% 18 months ago.

Table 1: Percentage of UK adults who consider themselves as having very good and excellent health

BMI                            Spring 2014                          Autumn 2015            
Healthy                64%                63%
Overweight                49%                53%
Obese                32%                36%

The report also suggests that only a small number of those with unhealthy BMIs are seeking help from their GP to manage their weight. Less than one in ten (8%) obese people sought this form of help in the last year, compared to 12% in Spring 2014.

Despite half (50%) of UK adults being classified as either overweight (31%) or obese (19%), only 36% overall wish to lose weight or improve their BMI compared to 39% 18 months ago.

According to Aviva’s research, over half (51%) of those considered overweight, based on their BMI, have no desire to lose weight, rising from 47% 18 months ago. Additionally, over a third (37%) of those classified as obese do not see the need to improve their weight – rising sharply from Spring 2014 when 28% did not list this as a health ambition.

Figures show that over the past five years, the NHS has spent at least £7million on adapting services and equipment to cater for obese patients. This also includes services dealing with the causes, prevention, and treatment of obesity.1

Health gender gap is growing

There is a growing gender disparity between those considered a healthy weight and those who are overweight. Almost half of women (46%) have a healthy BMI, the same proportion as in Spring 2014. However, only 39% of men in the UK fall into this category, down from 41% 18 months ago. The increasing proportion of men considered overweight – from 35% to 38% – over the past 18 months accounts for this shift as fewer men are considered healthy than before.

Table 2: percentage breakdown of BMIs amongst UK adults by gender

BMI Male

Spring 2014

Male

Autumn 2015

Male

Change             

Female

Spring 2014

Female

Autumn 2015

Female

Change              

Healthy 41% 39% -2% 46% 46%
Overweight 35% 38% 3% 27% 23% -4%
Very overweight 19% 18% -1% 19% 19%

Totals do not add up to 100% as a small percentage chose not to answer. Underweight is not included in the breakdown due to sample size.

Majority of UK adults fail to meet dietary recommendations
According to Aviva’s report, barely one in five (22%) UK adults are eating the suggested target of five portions of fruit or vegetables per day. This has slightly improved from 20% over the past 18 months, however it still leaves a large majority who are failing to maintain a healthy diet.

Nevertheless, diet habits amongst UK adults have improved in some areas. Fewer are consuming five or more shots of caffeine per day, falling from 28% to 22% over the past 18 months. In addition, the percentage who eat a portion of chocolate or crisps every day has fallen from 34% to 32% and those who drink a fizzy drink every day has dropped from 26% to 23% in the same period.

More UK adults are finding excuses not to exercise
Worryingly, over two fifths (42%) of UK adults said they were uncertain how much exercise they should be doing, up significantly from 35% 18 months ago. Diet is only half the battle of having a healthy lifestyle; exercise should also play a key role.

The NHS recommends that adults aged 19-64 should carry out at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week, equating to 30 minutes every week day2 . However, almost a fifth (17%) say they never exercise, the same level as 18 months ago.

Boredom and tiredness are becoming the greatest barriers preventing adults from exercising. Almost three in five (59%) claim they know they should be doing more exercise but find it boring or hard work, rising from 56% in Spring 2014. Over two in five (43%) say they are too tired to exercise, compared to 39% 18 months ago.

Dr Doug Wright, Medical Director for Aviva UK Health says,

“Health issues continue to be a daily conversation among adults in the UK, with lots of discussion around diet and exercise. However, these conversations do not always equate to how we actually live our lives.

“The research for our Autumn Health Check UK Report shows worrying numbers have major misconceptions of their own health that sadly do not align with reality. We are seeing more and more adults considered overweight, with a BMI of over 25, who are not being proactive in improving their health through exercise, diet or by seeking advice.

“There are many ways to find information to improve your health, from online guides on trusted websites (such as the NHS Live Well site) to visiting your local GP. Taking simple steps, such as increasing your daily fruit and vegetable consumption or walking part of your daily journey, can quickly put you on track to a healthier lifestyle. It is really important that those with an unhealthy weight start to take control of their own health, as being overweight can lead to serious long-term illnesses like diabetes.”

Methodology:
All percentages and figures shown in this report (unless otherwise cited) come from an online survey conducted by ICM research for Aviva UK Health. The survey was carried out in August 2015. Respondents were invited from ICM’s online panel and 2,004 interviews were conducted amongst a nationally representative sample of the UK adult population.

References:

1 Based on Government data from Freedom of Information requests, sourced by Sky News http://news.sky.com/story/1575334/nhs-spends-millions-on-larger-equipment-for-obese

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/Pages/physical-activity-guidelines-for-adults.aspx

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Global insurer Allianz, Chinese Internet giant Baidu and Asian investor Hillhouse Capital Group will join forces to establish a nationwide digital insurance company in China. The joint venture will use a new business model putting the needs of individuals and companies at its center and offering affordable protection whenever and wherever customers desire.

The joint venture will apply for a nationwide digital license to distribute insurance solutions online. The three partners will design innovative approaches in travel, ecommerce, Internet finance, short-term health, lifestyle and potentially also motor insurance in the future.

Already today, China’s economy is highly digitalized and is expected to provide unparalleled opportunities: Market research expects digital premiums to grow from 25 billion euros in 2015 to 107 billion euros in 2020. Allianz, Baidu and Hillhouse will position the new venture to capture this opportunity and leverage the three parties’ strengths.

George Sartorel, CEO of Allianz Asia Pacific, said: “The digital revolution in financial services is happening rapidly in Asia and particularly in China, where the financial services sector is being reinvented. With the speed of innovation that is taking place, we will see the quick disruption of traditional models. Allianz and its partners are at the forefront of this mega trend.”

Allianz is the world’s largest global insurer providing insurance, asset management and assistance services. Baidu, a technology-based media company, is the leading Chinese language Internet search provider with a mobile search user base covering over 640 million monthly active users.

Hillhouse is a long term fundamental equity investor with a global mandate to invest in many digital platforms. The company offers deep insights into the Chinese market.

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A harsh winter is predicted for the UK this year as a result of the ‘El Nino’ weather effect over the Atlantic Ocean. The last ‘El Nino’ happened six years ago and was followed by the UK experiencing one its worst winters for decades, with sub-zero temperatures, widespread harsh frosts and heavy snow setting in from early December and lasting nearly four months

Sean Walkden, Head of Household Claims at AXA says, “Whilst we aren’t sure yet of exactly how we’ll be affected by this weather phenomenon, it is always a good idea for homeowners to ensure their home is kept well-maintained and in good condition. Many insurers won’t cover policyholders for natural wear and tear, which can be worsened in bad weather.
“So here are a few simple checks for around your home that will help you keep warm this winter and potentially save policy holders hundreds of pounds in the long term.”

Protect your pipes
To help prevent frozen or bursting pipes, make sure that they are insulated well by wrapping them in lagging and by putting your heater on a timer to come on regularly – if you are away, be sure to put the heating on for at least one hour a day.

Check your loft space
If your loft space has a cold water tank, open the hatch occasionally to allow some heat in the area, this will help ensure the water in the tank doesn’t freeze.

Bleed your radiators
Make sure your radiators are working properly by checking that they are heating at the top and bottom. If they are not, there could be air in the radiators and they may need bleeding. There is an easy step-by-step guide on the AXA website demonstrating how to do this.

Inspect your roof
Check your roof is in good condition with no loose, cracked or missing tiles and that your aerial and chimney stack are secure. Ensuring your roof is well maintained will protect you from stormy weather, especially gale-force conditions. It will also help prevent any rain water from coming into your loft space, which can damage any stored contents or even the building’s structure.

Check your gutters & downpipes
Leaves and debris tend to collect in gutters and downpipes, so it is important to keep them clear for water to escape. Blockages and water overflow may cause damage to your exterior walls or fascia and in some cases even interior walls.

Clear your outside areas
Tidy away loose garden furniture and other items into a garage or a garden shed if possible. Also, secure your fences by making sure they are sturdy and cut away any low or overhanging tree branches. Lastly, put your car in a safe place, such as a garage, or move it somewhere away from where it could be damaged by failing roof tiles or tree branches.

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The patented program helps to facilitate access to care for injured workers and provides personal assistance from a Travelers nurse to guide someone through the workers compensation process. Employees who participate in the program typically recover much faster than other injured employees.

“ConciergeClaim® Nurse has delivered better health outcomes, and we are pleased to be making it available to more workers,” said Vincent Armentano, Senior Vice President of Business Insurance Claim at Travelers. “Our personalized approach decreases recovery time for most injuries by more than 40 percent, reduces anxiety for someone who has never been through the process and lowers medical costs for employers.”

Travelers’ nurses are physically located in the clinic and available to meet with injured workers immediately after they have been seen by a physician. This allows the nurse to guide the injured employee through the claim and recovery process, review the doctor’s diagnosis and treatment plan with the injured employee, work with the clinic’s medical staff on the recovery regimen and support the patient until he or she is discharged from care and able to return to work.

The company manages more than 250,000 workers compensation claims a year and employs more than 500 nurses in 21 full-service claim centers. Its ConciergeClaim® Nurse program is available in local healthcare clinics, most of which are operated by Concentra or U.S. HealthWorks.

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The European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) published today a Call for Evidence regarding the treatment of infrastructure corporates under Solvency II.

EIOPA invites market participants and (re)insurance stakeholders to provide information and data on the nature of infrastructure corporates and their risk profile. The paper describes the evidence that EIOPA is aware of and sets out the specific areas where EIOPA would be interested to know if additional evidence or data is available.

The deadline for responding to the Call for Evidence is 10 December 2015.

The Call for Evidence and the template for comments can be viewed here: https://goo.gl/UnWMPK

Based on the feedback received, EIOPA will prepare the draft technical advice to the European Commission (EC).

Background

This Call for Evidence follows the Call for Advice from the EC, where EIOPA was asked to “further consider the evidence regarding the treatment of infrastructure corporates”.

The EC based its request on EIOPA’s Advice on infrastructure investments, which was submitted on 29 September 2015. In that Advice EIOPA proposed a more granular treatment of debt and equity investments in qualifying infrastructure projects: https://goo.gl/Ot5CGK

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By the time the turkeys, pumpkin pies and cranberries are devoured and the calendar flips from November to December, 75 percent of Americans will have already started checking items off their shopping lists, according to a new poll released today by Allstate. What many are not checking off, though, are simple steps to protect their homes – Allstate claims data shows many types of fire, theft and weather property claims increase during the holiday season.

The third annual Allstate Holiday Home Hazards poll revealed risky behaviors, such as leaving packages in the open, leaving doors unlocked, or falling asleep with the stove on, a candle lit or a fire still roaring. Despite 71 percent of adults acknowledging the increased risk of in-home incidents, just 37 percent take extra care to protect themselves. The poll also found many do not heed safety warnings while decorating the home – the dangers of which can be explored in a fun and safe way with Allstate’s interactive online Holiday Decorator experience.

“Shopping season is in full swing, and it’s easy to let holiday cheer cloud our better judgment when buying and handling our purchases,” said Terri Dalenta, senior vice president of property products at Allstate. “Between gifts, decorations, big family meals, traveling and other activities, Americans can spend quite a bit of money during the holidays. Allstate’s goal is to help customers and consumers protect what matters most and stay safe, happy and healthy while enjoying a hazard-free holiday season.”

Presents of Mind
Despite 84 percent of adults planning to spend money on gifts this holiday season – including a quarter (27 percent) who say they expect to spend more than last year – many do not take the necessary precautions to keep their holiday purchases out of harm’s way:

  • Two-thirds (67 percent) of adults admitted to having valuables delivered to their home while they’re not there.
  • Six-in-10 (60 percent) have stored or hidden valuables in their car.
  • Eight percent have experienced theft of packages, 6 percent have experienced car break-ins and 4 percent have had their home broken into during the holidays.
  • One-third (33 percent) of adults will be shipping a gift this year, but only about half (52 percent) of those gift-givers will notify the recipient that a gift is en route.

Curbing some of consumers’ risky gifting behaviors may help put a damper on some of the most common holiday claims:

Insurance Policy Type Most Costly Claimi Median Cost of Claimi Increase During Holidaysii
Burglary
Homeowners $132,000 $3,258 11%
Condo $18,494 $2,011
Renters $102,000 $2,323
Theft of Silverware/Flatware
Homeowners $11,798 $2,500 23%
Condo $7,171 $4,087
Renters $7,805 $2,364
Property Stolen from Vehicle
Homeowners $80,000 $2,188 17%
Condo $22,782 $886
Renters $18,706 $1,745

Allstate suggests that you not let preventable mistakes in securing your presents cloud your holidays with a few simple tips:

  • When in plain view, gifts and valuables serve as an invitation to thieves. Hide purchases in your car trunk when shopping and don’t display them in the window of your home. Put your valuables away before hosting people at your home.
  • When sending a package, ensure someone is aware of the gift’s anticipated arrival and will be home at the time of delivery.

Chestnuts, Open Fires and Dangerous Décor
Nearly half of Americans (46 percent) will spend money on decorations this holiday season, with 21 percent of those individuals expecting to spend more money than last year. Many people, however, admit safety is not always top of mind when it comes to decking their halls:

  • More than half (53 percent) of adults admit they have plugged too many lights into one outlet.
  • Four-in-10 (40 percent) say they have slipped or fallen in a holiday-related activity, such as decorating.
  • Twenty-nine percent have left a real Christmas tree without water for more than three days, increasing the risk of fire.
  • More than a quarter of people (28 percent) have left the house and/or fallen asleep with candles burning. And about a quarter (24 percent) said they have done the same with a fire burning in the fireplace.
  • Of the people who own a fireplace, just over a quarter (28 percent of wood-fireplace owners and 26 percent of gas-fireplace owners) have cleaned or inspected their fireplaces in the past year.

There’s a distinct trend with decoration-related holiday home hazards: fire. Some of the most prevalent hazards, according to Allstate’s claims data:

Insurance Policy Type Most Costly Claimi Median Cost of Claimi Increase During Holidaysii
Fire Originated From Fireplace
Homeowners $1,596,013 $10,324 196%
Condo $154,761 $13,222
Renters $34,798 $13,847
Burning Candles Caused Fire
Homeowners $349,536 $14,038 63%
Condo $70,665 $4,241
Renters $38,511 $2,447
Electrical Fire
Homeowners $1,059,926 $24,462 21%
Condo $138,225 $6,304
Renters $98,127 $15,010
Smoke From Fireplace
Homeowners $93,772 $11,262 191%
Condo $19,197 $3,939
Renters $32,782 $4,564

Using Allstate’s Holiday Decorator to virtually hang your lights, garland and mistletoe is an interactive way to learn about keeping your home safe this season. Additionally, Allstate recommends a few easy ways to keep your holidays on track:

  • Have your chimney inspected and cleaned annually before the holidays begin to ensure it’s safe for use.
  • Never leave burning candles or fireplaces unattended, and keep trees or other flammable items away from fire.
  • Check holiday lights, throwing away any that are broken, and don’t overload the outlets. Only lights and extension cords specified for outdoor use should be used outside.

Table-stakes for “Tablescapes”
Cooking and entertaining are staples of the holiday season, and Americans are willing to splurge to create the perfect holiday spread – the poll revealed the most important consideration while shopping for that crowd-pleasing dinner is the quality of the ingredients. But as hungry families around the country wait for holiday hams to roast, 87 percent of cooks say they’re multitasking – which can prove to be a recipe for disaster:

  • More than half (58 percent) listen to music while cooking.
  • Forty-three percent cook multiple dishes at the same time.
  • About the same number (42 percent) watch TV or a movie while cooking.
  • Almost a third (32 percent) of people have left the house or fallen asleep while the stove was on.
  • Nine percent said a cooking mishap has previously resulted in smoke or fire.

Most people are aware of the risks associated with cooking and hosting a get-together. Even so, there is still work to be done on the prevention front, as evidenced by the claims data:

Insurance Policy Type Most Costly Claimi Median Cost of Claimi Increase During Holidaysii
Kitchen Fire (Non-Grease)
Homeowners $953,714 $12,145 10%
Condo $117,871 $6,561
Renters $73,010 $4,609
Wood or Coal Stove Fire
Homeowners $760,432 $14,545 160%
Condo N/A N/A
Renters $26,349 $13,584
Smoke Damage From Kitchen
Homeowners $87,761 $8,482 16%
Condo $47,615 $6,562
Renters $26,747 $3,834
Fire Caused By Electrical Appliance
Homeowners $483,507 $19,208 10%
Condo $147,672 $4,455
Renters $53,090 $7,198

Hosting the holidays can be stressful, but hosting hazards could be a game-ender. Allstate provides ways to be proactive this season:

  • Before the holidays, install new batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Make sure that family members can locate and operate fire extinguishers.
  • Be careful in the kitchen. Keep a close watch on cooking food and never leave the stove unattended for too long.
  • Don’t do too much while cooking. Try to focus on one thing at a time, and enlist help if you need to take on multiple tasks.

Travel Trip-Ups
One of the priciest purchases for many this season will be holiday travel. Sixty percent of Americans plan to spend at least one night away from home this year, with four-in-10 (41 percent) travelers planning to spend more on travel than last year. The poll revealed some risky behaviors that could contribute to home losses while away:

  • Half of Americans have left a door unlocked for a friend or family member. About the same amount (52 percent) have hidden a key for a friend or family member.
  • More than a third (35 percent) of adults say they have posted about travel plans on social media, including 58 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 34.
  • Less than a quarter (23 percent) frequently set a timer for lights in their houses while traveling.
  • Only 17 percent frequently shut off the water in their homes to prevent leaks or floods, and just 16 percent frequently leave a faucet dripping to prevent freezing pipes while traveling.

The holidays are busy enough as is, but when travel is thrown in, things can get even more hectic. Allstate claims data reveals upticks from colder temperatures that could wreak more havoc:

Insurance Policy Type Most Costly Claimi Median Cost of Claimi Increase During Holidaysii
Burst Pipes From Freezing
Homeowners $1,004,968 $5,833 722%
Condo $382,510 $4,445
Renters $66,943 $2,596
Damage From Ice Dam Build-up
Homeowners $209,870 $1,832 23%
Condo $13,071 $1,895
Renters $34,582 $920
Missing Property From Garage
Homeowners $5,919 $1,848 51%
Condo N/A N/A
Renters $2,684 $1,711
Property Damage From Weight of Snow/Ice On Roof
Homeowners $318,778 $1,886 64%
Condo $6,743 $2,206
Renters $15,609 $653

Allstate recommends taking extra precautions before you leave if you’re enjoying the holidays away from home to help guard against these hazards:

  • Whether it’s “check-ins” using geo-location services, travel plan updates, or even photos uploaded while at a holiday party, people may be unknowingly giving today’s “digital thieves” greater insight into the contents of your car or home, and the times when you’re away from them.
  • If kitchen or bathroom pipes are located near exterior walls, leave the cabinet doors open to help circulate warmer air around the pipes.
  • In order to prevent water from freezing and increasing pressure on pipes, leave taps slowly dripping if extremely cold weather is anticipated during travel.
  • During heavy snowfall, hire a professional to keep your home’s roof and gutters clear.
  • Make sure your attic is properly ventilated – the colder the attic, the less melting and refreezing on your roof.

“While some hazards are hard to predict, we often see jumps in certain claims during the holiday season,” Allstate agency owner Frank Torres said. “Part of my job as a trusted advisor to Allstate customers is to help them protect against avoidable hazards, and during the holidays just a few simple steps can make a world of difference in keeping your home safe from harm.”

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Two-fifths of UK small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) have already been affected by climate change, with a third worried about the impact climate change will have on their business, according to a study of business leaders commissioned by AXA.

Firms focusing on small steps to reduce carbon footprint rather than addressing key risks
Despite widespread concern, just 16 per cent said they have conducted a risk assessment to pinpoint vulnerabilities and only 39 per cent of senior managers at SME businesses believe their organisation is well prepared to deal with climate change.

The greatest concern for SME leaders is the impact that climate change could have on the cost of raw materials and inputs (9 per cent), with the health and wellbeing of employees (8 per cent) and cost of insurance and risk protection (8 per cent) completing the top three concerns.

However, when it comes to the actions that SMEs are taking to protect their business, many seem to be focused on smaller steps rather than deep risk planning. More than half (57 per cent) of those polled said they are focusing on recycling and waste reduction, with 40 per cent saying they are focusing on improving energy efficiency and 12 per cent, saying they are following national government guidelines on climate risk.

David Williams, Managing Director Underwriting, AXA UK, stated:

“Many businesses are on the front-line of climate change with their operations, employees and costs directly impacted. Smaller businesses are particularly vulnerable.

“Part of the challenge is that much climate change discussion takes place at a high level and there isn’t enough detailed discussion about the practical steps that business and consumers need to take to protect themselves from climate risk and ensure they are doing their bit to mitigate the impact.

“Yet the reality is that for all the discussion in Paris, at COP21, a large proportion of the action that needs to be taken to deliver carbon reduction targets will fall on business. Governments, NGOs and the business community need to act to help businesses adapt. What business needs is clarity on what needs to be achieved and the targets they are required to deliver.”

The study also found that 70 per cent of SME business leaders believe that insurance companies have a role to play in reducing climate change risk with 64 per cent believing insurance companies can help business and consumers adapt to the consequences of climate change.

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Premiere in Munich: the first DLDsummer Conference took place in the Allianz Auditorium. The partnership with Digital Life Design (DLD) was established by Claudine Perlet and Jörg Richtsfeld ‎from Allianz. The initiators explain what the partnership is all about.

Mr. Richtsfeld, where did the idea of working with DLD come from?

The digital world needs networks to survive. We only need to look to Silicon Valley to see how things are done: players from a whole range of sectors, including technology, the capital market, education and politics are working together, constantly developing new products and redefining customer orientation in the process. But there is a strong digital and global network only a stone’s throw from Allianz’ headquarters in the heart of Munich, too: the DLD (Digital Life Design). This network is a meeting place for influencers from the digital world, as well as of experts that build bridges to other industries: automotive, healthcare, financial services. Mark Zuckerberg, Eric Schmidt, the Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus and also Jimmy Wales have already been welcomed as conference guests. And from our perspective, access to these networks is important. Why? Because we are convinced that networks like these, which involve dialogue between academia, the technology sector, politics and business, are a key prerequisite for innovation and the targeted enhancement of our business models. That’s why we started the dialogue with Steffi Czerny (editorial note: the chairperson of the DLD) last year to talk about how a partnership could look like.

The talks resulted in a completely new format being launched: the DLDsummer. Ms. Perlet, why did you want to host the event at Allianz?

The basic idea is that we wanted to become an integral part of the DLD calendar. We wanted to appear in the DLD landscape in global, content-related terms, i.e. not to simply act as a sponsor, but also to showcase our expertise in practice. During our talks, “digital health” soon emerged as a topic that we wanted to make a permanent contribution to within the framework of the partnership. There are three reasons that support this decision: first of all, our society wants to live ever healthier lifestyles – health is becoming a megatrend. Second, the healthcare market has always been of interest to Allianz: we rank among the top 5 insurers in the life and health insurance segment. Third, the topic is an interesting one in a variety of markets: in the established markets, because we are getting older and older, in emerging markets, because these countries often still have a lack in medical care structures, and in the world’s megacities, because people living there are faced with very specific living conditions.

Ms. Perlet, which aspects of the conference did you enjoy in particular?

The interesting mix is what makes the event so attractive. A podium discussion on the “patient of the future”, featuring experts for wearables and data protection, was followed by a presentation given by a rational scientist who became a medical doctor and is now improving his treatment by paying respect to the individual life stories of his patients.. Sheila Marcelo, CEO of care.com, spoke about the global challenges relating to long-term care for older people and the opportunities that technology offers in this regard. Ski professional Maria Höfl Riesch explained in an interview how she used various digital measurements and data from her training sessions to improve her daily workout, meaning that she was less exhausted at the end of the day.
At the very latest when you are confronted with specific examples like this one, you truly realize how all-encompassing the digital revolution is and what range of opportunities it opens up.

Mr. Richtsfeld, why is “digital health” so important to Allianz?

We are ideally placed to play an active role in the emerging digital health ecosystems by combining our expertise in the fields of insurance, services and digital customer contact. After all, at the moment, we only have contact with our health insurance customers when they are ill or submit an invoice. Innovative digital products and services will allow us to step up and expand our contact with customers, for example acting as health coaches for them. Another possibility would be to use digital technology to improve preventative health measures and, in doing so, help people to avoid coming down with certain conditions in the first place. The healthcare segment is currently undergoing a process of fundamental transformation worldwide, and the main drivers behind this development are the speed and availability of technological innovation. This is changing the way we think about health and the way in which people can access treatment and preventative health measures. The “Digital & Health” is a really exciting field because it opens up completely new services and, as a result, business opportunities for us.

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Thomas Miller Investment, a member of the 129 year old Thomas Miller Group of companies, announces the launch of its Dublin domiciled UCITS compliant Diversified Assets Fund.

The fund offers exposure to a broad range of alternative sectors providing a single investment solution for investors looking to add diversification to their portfolio. It is designed to deliver absolute returns over an economic cycle, with lower volatility than equity markets while exhibiting a low correlation to traditional asset classes.

The fund is co-advised by Thomas Miller Investment’s Abi Oladimeji and Mark McKenzie.

Carolyn Gelling, Director & Head of Collective Investment Funds, Thomas Miller Investment, says: “We are pleased to be able to offer this new fund which will allow access to our institutional fund management and research capabilities and expertise in alternative asset selection within a liquid, daily dealing solution. We believe the inclusion of the TMI Diversified Assets fund within a wider balanced portfolio can improve overall risk-adjusted returns.

“Our motivation for launching this fund is part of our overall objective to grow our Collective Investment Funds business and as part of TMI’s vision to be recognised as a leading investment manager.”

TMI has managed a similar fund offshore until recently and from which it can demonstrate past performance track record. . Its relocation comes with a view to making it more readily available to intermediaries, family offices and self-directed investors within the EU.

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63% pay little or no attention to their pension pots
41% of over-45s never spend any time reviewing their pensions
12% do not read their pension statements
25% of those retiring in the next two years say they don’t review their pensions
Almost two thirds (63%) of over-45s who are not yet retired admit they pay little or no attention to their pensions, leading to more than ten million pots being left largely unmonitored*, new Aviva research shows.

Two fifths (41%) of over-45s never spend any time planning and reviewing their pensions, while almost a third (29%) spend just one day a year or less doing this.

Those who are further away from retirement are most likely to spend no time reviewing their pension, but a quarter (25%) of those retiring in two years or less still fail to dedicate any time towards doing this.

Among those with more than one pension, just 27% manage them all very closely while 34% ignore their secondary pots completely – including a worrying 24% who ignore their main pension pot too. Even among those who have just one pension pot, 33% do not pay any attention to it.

Pension pots are ‘lost’ as savers struggle to keep up-to-date with their savings

The majority (61%) of over-45s with a personal pension scheme have only joined one scheme, although more than a quarter (28%) have started two or more. A similar proportion (29%) of those with the most common type of company pension – defined contribution – have two or more.

However, many over-45s aren’t sure how many pension schemes they have started. Overall, 6% don’t know how many personal pension schemes they have, rising to 7% who are unclear on the number of defined contribution schemes and 9% that don’t know how many defined benefit schemes they have. This suggests that some savers are unclear about the types of pensions they have and/or are not closely involved in managing them.

Annual statements and information are overlooked by some

Half (49%) of over-45s do nothing about the routine information they receive about their pension, including one in ten (12%) who don’t even read it. Only a third (37%) use the information to check if their pension savings are on track and act upon it. An even smaller proportion (7%) discuss this with a financial adviser or other financial expert.

One in ten (11%) over-45s ignore their annual statements because they say they don’t know how to manage their pensions, while the same proportion believe their pensions are so small they aren’t worth bothering with. 8% delay looking at them until they are ready to retire – when it could already be too late to make any improvements on their financial situation.

However, people tend to make more effort to monitor their pensions the closer they are to retirement – for example, only 7% of those retiring in two years or less believe their small pension pots are not worth the effort, compared to 11% who are retiring in six to 10 years.

One in five will not consolidate their pension pots, despite being easier to manage

Just 14% have consolidated their pension pots or intend to do so in the future. A fifth (17%) will keep their multiple pension schemes separate and 13% are waiting for their pension provider to contact them before deciding what to do with their pots. More than one in ten (14%) prefer to keep things simple by having just one pension pot, and don’t intend to change this in the future.

Of those who have consolidated their pots, 21% did so because they took the advice of their financial adviser – however, nearly the same proportion (19%) did so because they found it easier to manage.

Clive Bolton, Managing Director, Retirement Solutions, Aviva UK Life, said:

“An alarming proportion of the UK’s pensions pots are being left unmonitored, with many simply ignoring their pension statements and hoping for the best. At the heart of this is how involved people are with their pensions – and while they can seem complicated there is lots of online support to help people make sense of their retirement savings.

“At the very least people need to understand what their total savings are across all of their pension pots, so they can plan in an informed way for their retirement.

“Having multiple pension pots can make things more complicated, but it doesn’t necessarily have to if people keep careful track of their savings. However, our research has shown that many people find managing their pensions difficult, and consolidating could therefore make it easier for them.  If they do wish to consider consolidating, then it’s important they take financial advice if they have valuable guarantees attached to their existing pensions.”