NETHERLANDS - Dutch insurance-based pension providers have considerably cleaned up their acts, according to the Dutch Association of Insurers (VvV), as 89% of companies managed to send out their Uniform Pension Statements (UPOs) to members on time this year.

"Although our aim is a timely despatch of all UPOs, we do not need to be ashamed of the new figures", commented Richard Weurding, director of the VvV, which carried out a sample survey among its 31 member pension insurers.

A survey based on self-assessment, and conducted by the communications regulator Financial Markets Authority (AFM), last year showed that over 50% of pension insurers failed to despatch all UPOs within the required period.

In 2008 the deadline was 31 December, however conditions seem to have improved somewhat as the AFM has brought the 2009 deadline forward by three months - to 31 September 2009 - and more documents were sent out on time.

According to the VvV, insurers sometimes deliberately delayed sending out their UPOs last year because they had yet to conclude discussions about contract renewals.

"Despatching a complete and correct UPO was in such a situation often more important than speed," it explained.

The AFM, which had already indicated that missing the deadline will trigger sanctions, first wants to assess the situation by itself before any measures are being taken, said Flore Kraaijeveld, spokeswoman for the AFM.

"In order to gather the necessary data, we will soon approach both insurers and pension funds for self-assessment," she said.

According to Kraaijeveld, sanctions for late UPOs will depend on the number of documents missing the deadline as well as the reason why this happened.

The AFM announced in June that pension funds scored an average of 78%, when it came to keeping their participants updated, after reviewing the self-assessments of 504 pension schemes.

The UPO is thought be one of the most important means of communicating the status of a member's pension in the Netherlands, as it provides participants with a yearly update on their claims as well as the future benefits they can expect to receive, under various scenarios.

The statement also enables participants to figure out whether they need additional pension arrangements.

The information of the UPO will also become available online in a digital pension register - being set up in a joint initiative by insurers and pension funds - as of 1 January 2011.

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