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17-443MR CommInsure pays $300,000 following ASIC concerns over misleading life insurance advertising
CommInsure will pay $300,000 towards a consumer advice service and have its advertising sign-off processes independently reviewed after ASIC raised concerns about certain instances of its life insurance advertising.
ASIC commenced investigating CommInsure in April 2016, which included a review of CommInsure's advertising of two life insurance policies:
- Total Care Plan, sold through financial advisers
- Simple Life Insurance, sold directly to consumers
The review looked at advertising from mid-2013 to March 2016 and found that misleading and deceptive statements are likely to have been made on some of CommInsure's websites about the extent to which customers would be entitled to cover for trauma if they suffered a heart attack.
The statements may have led a policyholder to believe they would be entitled to a lump sum payment if they suffered a heart attack in general, when in fact only certain types of heart attacks, which met certain medical criteria as defined in the policy, were covered.
In response to ASIC's concerns, CommInsure will commission an external firm to conduct a compliance review of its advertising sign-off processes and procedures. The review will look at whether CommInsure's processes and procedures ensure compliance with the ASIC Act, and make recommendations to improve compliance if required.
CommInsure will report to ASIC by 30 June 2018 on the results of the review and the changes implemented.
As previously announced, CommInsure updated the definition of heart attack in its trauma life insurance products in March 2016 and is reassessing past claims under the updated definition back to October 2012. To date, CommInsure has paid additional benefits for 32 claims, totalling approximately $4 million as a result of the reassessed claims.
ASIC has now concluded its investigation into the life insurance business of CommInsure.
CommInsure will make a $300,000 payment to the Financial Rights Legal Centre which will be used for the Insurance Law Service, a national specialist consumer insurance advice service operated for the benefit of vulnerable, low income and disadvantaged consumers.
ASIC released a public report on its investigation in March 2017 [17-076MR]
Following concerns raised by ASIC, CommInsure applied its updated heart attack definition back to October 2012, which was the date at which international cardiology bodies published an updated consensus on the appropriate clinical marker for heart attack.
ASIC's MoneySmart website has information for consumers about life insurance, including what to look for when comparing policies.