What are penny policies and how can I track one down?

It’s estimated there could be millions of pounds worth of unclaimed penny policy benefits. Could you have one of these policies? Here’s how to find out.

It’s estimated there could be millions of pounds worth of unclaimed penny policy benefits. Could you have one of these policies? Here’s how to find out.

Anelda Knoesen
From the Money team
minute read
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Posted 19 NOVEMBER 2019

What are penny policies?

Penny policies were life, savings and endowment policies. They were sold door-to-door from the late 19th century up until the 1960s – although some continued to be sold into the 1990s.

As the name suggests, for premiums costing just a few pennies, the policies could cover funeral costs or be used for saving or endowments that paid out on maturity.

The premiums for the policies, also known as industrial branch policies, were collected in person and records were kept on paper.

With the cost of these policies being so low and so many years passing since they were popular, many people may have forgotten they have them.

Could I or a relative have unclaimed penny policies?

You could have taken policies out several decades ago and forgotten about them. Or you could have a penny policy that your parents or grandparents took out for you and might not realise you have.

How can I find any lost insurance policies?

There are a few ways to track down any lost penny policies, regardless of whether you have the original documents.

  • If you have an idea of which company issued the policy, contact them directly.
  • If you’re unsure who issued the policy, check through your financial documents to see if you can find any relevant information. Penny policy records were often kept in the form of a small receipt booklet where the weekly payments were recorded, so look out for these.
  • Experian’s Unclaimed Assets Register can help you to track down unclaimed penny policies in your name, for a fee.
  • You can also contact the Association of British Insurers who have contact details for life insurance companies. The Association of Financial Mutuals can provide you with contact details for mutual insurance providers and friendly societies. You can then reach out to see if you have an account with any of them.

Which providers issued penny policies? 

Penny policies were issued by a number of providers, some of which no longer exist under their original names. These include:

  • The Liverpool Victoria Friendly Society, which is now LV=. The company launched a campaign in 2018 to reconnect with penny policy holders – to get in touch, see LV Reconnect.
  • Royal London and United Friendly, Refuge Assurance and Royal Liver, all of which are owned by Royal London. If you think you might have one of these policies, contact Royal London.
  • Companies that Prudential is now responsible for also issued penny policies. To get in touch about an unclaimed policy, see their What to do if I’ve lost my policy page.
  • Now owned by Phoenix, Britannic Assurance, Pearl Assurance and Swiss Life issued industrial branch policies. If you think you have one that hasn’t been claimed, see their Tracing an industrial branch policy page.

What are penny policies worth? 

How much penny policies are worth depends on a number of factors, including the type of policy, when it matured and how long premiums were paid for.

For example, you may not get more than the original surrender value if the policy was paid into for less than 20 years.

Payment of interest can also depend on how long the policy was paid into and the age of the owner.

How do I cash in a penny policy?

If you want to cash in a penny policy, contact the insurance provider the policy is with and provide them with any details you have. They’ll be able to tell you if the policy is still valid and how much it is worth. You may need to provide a copy of the policy and possibly a death certificate if it’s in the name of a relative who has died.

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