Financial and insurance sectors urged to improve end of life admin for customers

Senior executives from some of the UK’s biggest banks and insurance companies are due to attend a virtual summit today (Wed) to discuss their support for a new ‘Bereavement Standard.’

The meeting comes as calls grow for streamlined end-of-life admin processes across all commercial sectors, partly due to the rising number of deaths in Britain this year caused by COVID-19.

Financial organisations are under pressure from various quarters – including regulators and the Financial Conduct Authority – to improve their treatment of vulnerable customers and end of life administration fits directly into this important mandate.

Chris Pond, Chair of the Financial Inclusion Commission, who is chairing part of the summit, said: “While the global pandemic has affected every British family, and brought great sadness to many families, it is good to see the financial services industry coming together to make things better for both bereaved and vulnerable customers.

“COVID-19 is shining a light on some of the broken bereavement processes and I’m excited by the opportunity to pilot a new way of simplifying end-of-life account closure.”

More than 60 organisations, including high street banks, insurance companies and intermediary firms, are due to be represented at the summit, which is being jointly hosted by online startup Settld, and Cruse Bereavement Care.

The Bereavement Standard would set a time limit for account closures, standardise paperwork and documents required, and would ensure service providers have dedicated bereavement channels with properly trained staff, available to customers.

“Given the Competition and Market Authority’s recent critical report of the Funeral Sector, it is good that new startups like Settld are coming into the space to shake things up and improve customer experience. I’m fully behind their call for a cross-industry voluntary Bereavement Standard,” added Chris Pond.

Nearly 90,000 people have signed an online petition calling on the government to introduce a Bereavement Standard, and 50 MPs have signed a similar cross-party Early Day Motion in the Commons. The campaign is being featured on BBC1’s Rip Off Britain on Friday, Oct 9th.

Vicky Wilson, co-founder of Settld – which is launching an online app to automate end of life account closure processes which will be free to the public – said: “It is crucial that the biggest banks and insurers support a Bereavement Standard if we are to see improved services for the most vulnerable in society. It’s hugely encouraging to see the main players in the sector attending this summit and we hope it’s a sign of positive changes to come.”

Across the UK, more than 600,000 people die every year. Currently, there is no approved process for closing accounts when someone dies. On average individuals have up to 20 utility, banking, mobile, broadband, TV subscription, and other household service accounts which need to be closed.

The Bereavement Standard ‘petition campaign group’ consists of Settld, Cruse Bereavement Care, Sue Ryder, Co-Op Funerals, Marie Curie, Jack’s Law campaigner Lucy Herd, Good Grief Trust, Parkinsons UK, Alzheimer’s Society, Farewill,, Independent Age, WAY Widowed and Young, and the National Bereavement Alliance.

For more details, or interviews, please contact:
Tim Reid
07720 414205