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The GAR problems may be spreading

Other life offices could face misselling claims from policyholders who were not told of the impact of guaranteed annuity rates on with-profits funds following legal findings on the Equitable Life case.

FSA legal opinion also backs up the findings of Equitable&#39s legal team. It shows that policyholders without guaranteed annuities could lodge misselling claims on the grounds that they were not made aware the company had gar liabilities and that their policies would have to support gar costs.

The regulator is writing to life offices asking them to review their position with regard to gar liabilities and non-gar policyholders.

Up to 50 companies have sold both gar and non-gar business, including Royal & Sun Alliance, Scottish Equitable and Scottish Widows.

Equitable&#39s legal team estimates claims from non-gars could total £850m if a compromise deal is not reached.

The FSA is asking life offices to look at whether non-gars are exposed to meeting the cost of gars, how big the gar cost is and what steps have been taken to manage gar exposure.

But the FSA and many life companies do not believe the findings will have widespread ramifications across the industry because Equitable is facing a unique situation.

FSA spokesman Vernon Everitt says: “Many companies have dealt with the House of Lords&#39 ruling, either from drawing from their reserves or using funds from their parent company which has meant that non-gars are not affected.”

Aegon corporate development director Laurie Edmans says: “This does not appear to be a big issue. Most other offices got out of gar policies much earlier than Equitable and most have much better balanced books of business.”

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