CommInsure guilty of hawking life insurance
CommInsure has pleaded guilty to 87 counts of offering to sell insurance products through unlawful and unsolicited telephone calls that are contrary to the Corporations Act.
Between October and December 2014, CommInsure, through its agent, telemarketing firm Aegon Insights Australia, unlawfully sold life insurance policies known as Simple Life over the phone, ASIC said in a statement.
ASIC said CommInsure provided customer contact details to Aegon from CBA’s existing customer database. The CBA customers had not requested to be contacted for the sale of Simple Life by CommInsure, or persons on CommInsure’s behalf, or to receive marketing information from CommInsure.
In all of the 87 calls charged, CommInsure did not comply with the requirement to offer the customer the option of having the information required to be included in the product disclosure statement (PDS) for Simple Life read to them prior to the offer to issue or sell the product.
In 14 of the calls charged, ASIC noted that CommInsure also failed to meet the requirements to:
- give the customer a PDS before becoming bound to acquire Simple Life; and
- clearly inform the customer of the importance of using the information in the PDS when making a decision to acquire Simple Life.
This matter is being prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions after an investigation and referral of a prosecution brief by ASIC, with CommInsure to be sentenced at a later time.
In response, CommInsure has conducted a remediation program to affected customers.
The refunds are to policyholders who were Commonwealth Bank customers between 2010 and 2014 and were sold a range of life insurance products via telemarketing calls by Aegon.
ASIC said CommInsure has completed a majority of the remediation payments and expects to finalise the remediation program by the end of 2019, with refunds to around 30,000 customers expected to exceed $12 million.
During ASIC’s review of direct life insurance in August 2018, ASIC identified concerning sales practices by CommInsure. Concerns were raised by ASIC with CommInsure about sales of its accidental death insurance product called ‘Accident Protection’, including that:
- almost half of all policies sold in 2012-13 were cancelled by the consumer during the cooling-off period or within six months, suggesting consumers may have felt pressured to buy the policy then realised they did not want it or could not afford it;
- inadequate or unclear descriptions of the product were given, which was particularly concerning due to the extremely limited cover provided by the policy;
- sales were completed in as little as eight minutes, raising concerns about how the consumer could have made an informed decision about a complex insurance product; and
- sales representatives often selected the level of cover on behalf of the consumer, further reducing the likelihood that consumers were getting cover that met their needs.
After ASIC raised concerns about the sales of CommInsure’s Accident Protection product, CommInsure identified similar concerns with the telemarketing of a range of other life insurance products sold by Aegon between 2010 and 2014.
“ASIC is concerned that the way in which these products were sold was manifestly unfair, with customers given insufficient information to make an informed decision,” ASIC deputy chair Daniel Crennan QC said.
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