Ishemunyoro Chingwere Business Reporter
THE value of unclaimed pension benefits has risen to $30 million with about 48 000 pensionable claims on the books of insurance companies lying unclaimed, the Insurance and Pensions Commission (IPEC) has said.
The continued rise in the figure has jolted the insurance regulatory board to take corrective measures and is now planning to publicise the names of policy holders whose benefits have not been claimed with the hope of reaching out to the beneficiaries.
Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of this year’s commemorations of the World Pensions Awareness Day on Saturday in Mutare IPEC Public Relations Officer Mr Lloyd Gumbo said it was disheartening that would-be beneficiaries could be living in poverty while their monies lay idle.
He said the majority of the people who have not claimed their money were those that used to work in the clothing and mining industries and these include standalone funds, self-administered funds and insured funds.
IPEC said the failure to claim could be attributed to lack of knowledge on the part of pension scheme members or could be a result of poor record-keeping by the pension funds, which makes it difficult for the pension funds to trace the members.
“As IPEC we have requested a list of all pension fund beneficiaries who have not been claiming their money and we have since been given some of the names, but they are still compiling,” said Mr Gumbo.
“So what we intend to do is to make it easy for those beneficiaries to be able to access or know that they have not claimed. We intend to publicise the names of all the people who have not claimed their money which is now almost 48 000 people which amounts to about $30million.
“Our interest is to make sure that people enjoy their benefits so we want them to know they have benefits which are lying idle which they can come and claim,” he said.
Mr Gumbo said in other jurisdictions like South Africa, policy holders can have access to their benefits by entering their particulars through the regulator’s website and view what is due to them and IPEC is working to develop the same concept locally.
In cases where the pension beneficiary has passed on, their spouses can also claim the same benefits or if there is no spouse children under the age of 18 years can also claim.
“We are also working on a system that will make it possible for someone to check on our website, they just log in their particulars like National ID which will take them directly (to view) their benefits.
“(In the event of a beneficiary passing on) a (surviving) spouse is the first priority when it comes to claiming pension benefits, the children can also claim the money as long as they have not turned 18 years old,” said Mr Gumbo.
Unclaimed pension benefits, Mr Gumbo said, were kept in a “Guardian Fund” awaiting for an eventual claim from the policy holder or any authorised person.
In the event that they remain unclaimed for five years in the guardian fund, the funds are then forfeited to the state for use in national development projects.