HC Deb 01 November 1916 vol 86 cc1727-9
109 Major HUNT

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that about 2,312,000 assurance policies have been lapsed by the Prudential Assurance Company alone during the last two years; and whether, in view of the fact that other insurance companies have-also lapsed more millions of policies, many of them being those of soldiers and sailors, he will have an independent inquiry instituted on the lapsing of these policies and on the way in which the assurance companies have evaded the Courts-(Emergency Powers) Act, 1914?


The figure given in the hon. and gallant Gentleman's question is in accordance with the particulars appearing in the published reports of the Prudential Assurance Company, Limited, except that the number appears to include surrenders of policies in the ordinary branch, and I am informed by the company that it also includes policies which have been discontinued when a fully paid-up policy has been issued and policies on which no premiums have been paid. I understand that two-thirds of the lapsed policies had been in existence less than a year, and three-quarters less than two years. As the hon. and gallant Member is aware, the Courts (Emergency Powers) Act prevents the lapsing of industrial policies for amounts not exceeding £25, on which premiums have been paid for two years, without the consent of the Court. I am considering whether any additional safeguards are required besides those contained in the Act.

Major HUNT

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that instructions have been issued to agents by superintendents that where payments get into arrears new policies are to be issued, and if the effect of this is that the old policies lapse and the insurance company get out of paying any, or almost any, money on the old policies and the people lose it?


No, Sir, I was not aware of the instruction having been issued; but if the hon. and gallant Member will give me particulars of the cases, I will certainly have them inquired into.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this company is honouring its policies with regard to soldiers and sailors who meet with death, although not bound to do so, and are making gratuitous payment in full to the extent of hundreds of thousands of pounds for which they are not legally liable?


I do not know the amount of allowances they have made, but the company inform me they are making allowances.