Annuities and retirement

If you're after a secure, regular income from your pension then our online annuity service could help. We'll search across a panel of annuity firms to find the best deal for you.

If you've £18,000 or more in your fund you can get a quick quote or apply for a comprehensive no obligation quote using our impartial annuity service.

  • Instant, easy no obligation quote – using our short online assessment
  • Available to anyone – same great offers for new and existing customers
  • Search for a higher income – look across our panel of providers for our best deals


Please note: Annuity rates can change regularly and may go up or down in the future. Quoted rates are guaranteed for a limited time only.
We don’t offer financial advice with this service, which means we won’t give you advice on your choice of annuity. However, our experts at Bank of Scotland Annuity Service are on hand to take you through any queries you may have about our service.

Help with the Annuity Service

Need support? Call us on
0845 600 6651
Lines open 9am to 5pm
Monday to Friday.

What's an annuity?

An annuity converts the funds from your pension into a regular, secure income payable for the rest of your life.

When you retire, you can usually take a maximum of 25% of your fund as a tax-free lump sum from your pension with the remainder typically used to buy an annuity to provide you with a guaranteed income for your lifetime.

Annuities can usually be drawn from age 55 and as with most financial products there is a range of different types of annuity, each with different features. Choosing an annuity is an important decision to get right as, once you've signed up, it can't be stopped, changed or switched to another company.

The type of annuity that will work best for you, and ultimately determines the amount of income you will receive, depends on your individual circumstances such as your age, health and lifestyle choices.

  1. Why use our annuity service

Why use our annuity service?

We provide an impartial annuity comparison service to help you search for higher income. If you are looking to draw a secure and regular income from your pension funds, then an annuity could be just what you’re looking for. If you are a UK resident and have pension funds of £18,000 or over you may be eligible for our online Annuity Service.

If you want a no obligation quick quote, if you’re ready to start a new application or if you’re a returning customer with an existing Annuity Service ID, click on the ‘Access our Annuity Service’ link below to access our dedicated Annuity Service website.

Once set up, an annuity is for life and is not transferable, so it's vital to consider your needs and options carefully at the beginning of the process.

  • Our impartial service can help you compare providers from the comfort of your home saving you time.
  • Our Annuity team have handled over £2 billion of clients’ funds on the open market*, helping achieve higher incomes than staying with previous pension company.
  • We'll approach our panel of annuity providers and present you with the best rates they have to offer based on your personal circumstances.
  • The quotes we obtain may include some alternatives to conventional annuities. e.g. your health and lifestyle could mean you can receive a higher income.
  • We're available on the end of the phone if you do need to speak to someone about the Annuity Service.
    Remember – if you decide to proceed with one of the annuity providers from our search, your annuity will be held with that provider, not with Bank of Scotland Annuity Service.

*Source: Bank of Scotland Annuity Service – 5th December 2012

  1. Who are our providers?

Who are our providers?

Our impartial Annuity Service uses the Open Market Option (OMO), which means we'll search for quotes from our panel of carefully chosen annuity providers to try to get you the best possible income.

We act as an Intermediary with these providers which means you do not have to contact them all individually to see if they can offer you a better rate. We present the top rates so you can choose your provider. We also carry out regular reviews on all the providers that offer annuity rates through our service (assessing such things as their financial strength) so you can be sure you are selecting your annuity from a reputable company.

Depending on your personal requirements and circumstances, you may be offered rates from any of the following companies:

Aviva Life & Pensions UK Limited Legal & General Prudential
Canada Life LV= Reliance Mutual
Hodge Lifetime MGM Advantage Scottish Widows
Just Retirement Ltd Partnership Assurance  

Provider list correct as at 12/12/2012.

  1. Are there any charges?

Are there any charges?

If you decide to proceed with an annuity provider we find in our search, that provider will pay us a commission, which will be confirmed in the report we send to you. 

Remember, you’re under no obligation to arrange your annuity through this service, and no charges will apply until you are happy with the quote you receive and agree to proceed by returning your signed application.

  1. Read the annuity FAQs

Annuity FAQs

Is the Annuity Service right for me?

Our online Annuity Service could be right for you if:

  • You are a UK resident and hold a pension in a UK registered pension plan.
  • You require a regular and secure income in your retirement.
  • You have total pension funds of £18,000 or over*.
  • You want to see if you can get a better annuity rate than the one offered by your existing pension provider.
  • You’re not planning to use funds in a final salary scheme** for this service.

*If you have total pension funds of under £18,000 you should check with your current pension company to see if you’re able to take your entire pension funds as a lump sum. You could also consult the Money Advice Service, an independent service set up by the Government, which has lots of useful information on annuities.

** A final salary scheme is one where your pension is directly related to (or based on) your earnings shortly before you retire.

What types of annuity are there?

There are many different annuity options available and your choice will affect the level of income you receive. Options available through the Bank of Scotland Annuity Service include:

  • Conventional annuity – pays a regular guaranteed income for the rest of your life.
  • Enhanced or impaired annuity – like a conventional annuity, but could pay a higher income to those with a qualifying illness, certain lifestyle criteria or who smoke. (See ‘How do I qualify for a higher income on my annuity’ question below). 
  • Single life annuity – gives retirement income throughout your lifetime but provides no income for dependants when you die.
  • Joint life annuity – gives retirement income to your spouse or partner if you die first.  

Can I change my mind once I’ve bought an annuity?

No - an annuity can’t be returned, switched between providers or otherwise changed once started, so it’s important to consider all options up front.

What can I do if my pension funds are below £18,000?

If you have total pension funds of under £18,000 you should check with your current pension company to see if you’re able to take your entire pension funds as a lump sum. You could also consult the Money Advice Service, an independent service set up by the Government, which has lots of useful information on annuities.

Is there a difference between providers?

Yes, annuity rates and income can vary widely between insurance companies and rates also change on a frequent basis, so it's important to exercise your right to look for a better deal using the Open Market Option. The rate you get from another provider on the open market could be significantly higher than if you stay with the company who has managed your pension plan. Our convenient and impartial service helps you compare various providers with ease to help you find higher income.

How do I qualify for a higher income on my annuity?

Taking into account your state of health may mean you could receive higher income from your annuity. Approximately 40% of the retiring population qualify for higher income on their annuity yet only a small proportion of this number actually applies for them. You do not have to be seriously ill to qualify for enhanced terms. Medical conditions that can qualify include:

  • Chronic lung disease
  • Heart conditions
  • Diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Obesity
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Alzheimer's
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Cancer
  • Parkinson's disease

Other factors such as smoking, having been hospitalised for a medical condition and being on prescription medication may also get you a higher income for life.

Why is it important that I make sure the medical and lifestyle information I provide is correct?

The information you provide will be used to determine whether you are eligible for the higher income rates available through an enhanced annuity.  It’s very important that you make sure this is correct because if it isn’t the annuity provider will have the right to change your rate of income or even cancel your policy which may affect the level of income you receive for the rest of your life.

Where can I get more information on annuities?

If you feel that you require financial advice unique to your situation, you should contact an Independent Financial Adviser. Please note; you will be charged by an IFA for financial advice.

Alternatively, consult the Money Advice Service, which has lots of useful information on annuities.

Bank of Scotland Annuity Service is a trading name of Halifax Financial Brokers Ltd, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Halifax Financial Brokers Ltd is registered in England (No. 2367078) Registered Office: Trinity Road, Halifax, West Yorkshire, HX1 2RG.

We may record telephone calls so that we have a record of what was said and for monitoring and training purposes.