Norwich Union, an insurance division of the UK's biggest insurer Aviva, has taken the unilateral decision to move thousands of its pension customers back into the UK state pension scheme, even if they do not ask for it.

The UK insurance giant, which is one of the largest pension providers in the country, is to automatically opt in customers it believes would benefit more from the state pension system, even though it will not necessarily discuss the move with the affected policy holders directly beforehand.

Under current conditions Norwich Union has taken the position that the state second pension offers savers better returns and as a result the company will be transferring around 40,000 customers over to it.

Norwich Union has been urging customers to take the decision to move on their own, but due to the lack of response from about 80% of contacted policy holders, the company will now take action on their behalf.

Customers who were sold their pension policy direct by a Norwich Union adviser, and those who have no adviser, will automatically be contracted back in, unless they contact the company to oppose the move. The remainder will be urged to follow suit.

Norwich Union said it will start to contact customers soon about its intentions. Policy holders will then get six weeks to respond before the automatic transfer takes place.