A traded endowment policy, or "TEP", is a with-profits endowment policy that has been sold by the original policyholder to another investor before the end of the agreed term of the policy. These policies are legally assigned to the new owner who continues to pay the premiums. They are also known as 'second hand endowments'.

The majority of endowment policyholders do not maintain their endowment policy to the end of the policy term. There are many reasons why the original policyholder may want to surrender their with-profits endowment policy before the maturity date. Some of the more common reasons include:

  • change of mortgage

  • unhappy with the policy/projections

  • divorce

  • need capital

In the majority of cases a better surrender value can be obtained on the traded endowment market, compared to that offered by a life assurance company. The difference is typically 15% but can be as high as 40%.

One of the reasons why life assurance companies appear to offer poor value is because the policyholder incurs "early surrender penalties", which are effectively charges deducted from the current value of the investment. These additional costs are incurred because the charges levied by the life assurance companies are based on the assumption that the policyholder will maintain the policy for the agreed term. A high proportion of the company's costs are incurred when the policy is first set up, though the charges to the policyholder are then spread over the life of the policy.

Consequently, selling a policy via the traded endowment market is an attractive solution for policyholders. At the same time, buyers are able to acquire policies "in mid-term", with annual bonuses already attached and at a price likely to give them an attractive return with limited risk.

Surprisingly, a market has existed for traded endowment policies since 1843, although this market has been extremely small until relatively recently. Between 1989 and today, the TEP market has rocketed in turnover from 5 million to more than 400 million. Of course, the Internet is now having an impact as many of the processes involved in buying and selling endowment policies can be automated. Our instant valuation facility is a classic example.