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18-085MR RAA Insurance pays $43,200 in penalties for misleading car insurance advertising
RAA Insurance Limited (RAA) has paid $43,200 in penalties after ASIC issued four infringement notices for misleading representations made in television advertisements aired in South Australia.
ASIC was concerned the television advertisements, which were aired between December 2016 and June 2017, contained misleading representations about the 'lifetime vehicle replacement' benefit of RAA’s comprehensive car insurance policy.
ASIC was concerned that the advertisements gave consumers the impression that RAA would replace their car with a new one if the car was a total loss. However, important additional conditions applied in order to qualify for this benefit - the car must have been manufactured after 2014 and must have been insured exclusively with RAA since new. The advertisements did not, in ASIC's view, adequately disclose or explain that these additional conditions applied.
The advertisements included a disclaimer, but ASIC was concerned that this was insufficient to effectively qualify the predominant message of the advertising because:
- the disclaimer was in fine print at the bottom of the advertisement and only displayed for a short period of time; and
- there was distracting audio-visual content in the advertisement while the disclaimer was displayed.
ASIC Deputy Chair Peter Kell said, 'Financial service providers must make sure that the attempt to grab consumer attention in their advertising does not give misleading impressions. Key qualifications to the headline offer must be adequately disclosed.'
RAA has ceased airing the television advertisements.
Previous ASIC action in relation to misleading advertising:
- 17-443MR CommInsure pays $300,000 following ASIC concerns over misleading life insurance advertising
- 17-410MR Volkswagen Financial Services Australia pays $216,000 penalty for misleading advertising
- 17-398MR AAMI pays $43,200 for misleading advertising
ASIC has issued Regulatory Guide RG 234 Advertising financial products and services (including credit): Good practice guidance setting out our guidance to help promoters comply with their legal obligations not to make false or misleading statements or engage in misleading or deceptive conduct.
ASIC can issue an infringement notice where it has reasonable grounds to believe a person has contravened certain consumer protection laws under the ASIC Act.
The payment of an infringement notice is not an admission of a contravention of the ASIC Act consumer protection provisions.
For consumers who are buying a car, ASIC's MoneySmart website has independent information for consumers. The MoneySmart Cars app helps consumers understand the real cost of car ownership and car yard traps to avoid.