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HMRC internal manual

Insurance Policyholder Taxation Manual

Assignments: separations of married couples, civil partners and unmarried couples

Where there is an assignment of a policy or contract between spouses, civil partners orunmarried partners in a couple who have separated, similar principles apply as totransfers between divorcing spouses. It is not possible to give comprehensive advice toinsurers, as the circumstances in each case will need to be considered, but it is possibleto give some pointers. An insurer will not be penalised for failing to issue a certificateor issuing an incorrect certificate if its action was reasonable based on the informationin its possession at the time.

Separated spouses and civil partners

If a policy or contract is assigned between separated spouses or civil partners under aCourt Order then, as with transfers on divorce, the assignment will not be for money ormoney’s worth. In the absence of a Court Order, the assignment will be for money ormoney’s worth if it is on separation.

In contrast to the position under transfers on divorce, an insurer should not assume thata policy or contract has been assigned under a Court Order simply because it knows that acouple have separated. If there is no mention of divorce or formal dissolution, orevidence of a pre-nuptial agreement, the insurer should treat the assignment as givingrise to a chargeable event unless it has information to suggest that the assignment wasunder a Court Order or an agreement ratified by a Court Order.

An insurer may not even be aware that a couple have separated and are living apart, inwhich case it will believe that no chargeable event arises on assignment because of theexemption for assignment between spouses and civil partners - IPTM7365.

Unmarried couples, other than civil partners

If an insurer knows that a previously co-habiting unmarried couple are now living apartthen it is reasonable to assume that an assignment between them is on separation andunlikely to be under a Court Order and so is for money or money’s worth. Such anassumption cannot be made if the parties are still living together. But it will depend onwhat information the insurer holds. In the absence of firm information, an insurer mayassume that there is no passing of money or money’s worth.

Further reference and feedback IPTM1013