ASIC has today commenced civil penalty proceedings in the Federal Court against Allianz Australia Insurance Ltd (Allianz) and its related-party AWP Australia Pty Ltd (AWP) for the alleged misleading sale of travel insurance, sold through three websites run by Expedia Inc (Expedia).
The conduct concerns alleged breaches of the Corporations Act and the ASIC Act relating to misleading and deceptive conduct and general licence obligations.
ASIC alleges that, in respect of certain travel insurance products sold through the Expedia websites in the period February 2015 to September 2018:
- Allianz failed to correctly disclose the basis upon which premiums were calculated in the product disclosure statements that were made available on the websites;
- Allianz and/or AWP allowed the sale of insurance to customers who were ineligible to make claims under the policies; and
- Allianz and/or AWP allowed the Expedia websites to misuse a quote from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade about the importance of purchasing travel insurance.
ASIC is seeking declarations and pecuniary penalties against Allianz and AWP.
The first case management hearing is yet to be listed by the Court.
Allianz issues insurance products, including travel insurance products, to consumers in Australia. AWP is responsible for the development and sale of travel insurance products issued by Allianz.
Allianz and AWP are owned by the same parent company, Allianz SE.
The civil penalty proceeding concerns travel insurance products described as 'integrated' products. The insurance policies were sold through the Expedia websites upon the purchase of another travel product (for example, flights) and so were much like 'add-on insurance' products. Towards the end of the purchase path of the travel product, the customer would be prompted to add travel insurance to their purchase.
The first case management hearing is listed for 11 November 2020.
Editor's note 2:
The proceedings were listed for a case management hearing on 11 November 2020. The court ordered a timetable of steps for the parties to complete and listed the case for a trial on 13 and 14 July 2021.
Editor's note 3:
The matter was heard by Chief Justice Allsop on 13 July 2021. The court heard from the parties in relation to agreed facts, admissions to contraventions by the defendants and submissions on penalty. The court has reserved its judgment.