OnePath Life Pty Ltd (OnePath) is remediating up to $35 million to over 40,000 customers who were sold life insurance policies over the phone between 2010 and 2016. This remediation flows from ASIC intervention and action over the past three years.
ASIC took action to stem and remediate harms caused by OnePath’s poor telephone sales practices. Extensive consumer harm resulted from egregious sales practices including:
pressure selling tactics (such as promoting a deferral of the first premium payment, and using the cooling off period as an inducement to buy the product),
failing to provide information about key policy exclusions, and
leading the consumer to believe that the salesperson was calling from ANZ Bank with a special customer offer.
At the time of the sales calls, OnePath was owned by ANZ bank, albeit operating as a separate business.
ASIC Deputy Chair Karen Chester said ‘For over three years now, ASIC has pursued enforcement, regulatory and remediation action to tackle misconduct and stem consumer harm in the direct life insurance market. ASIC has delivered deterrence through court action, disruption and improvement in sales practices and delivered compensation to tens of thousands of consumers who have suffered harm. Better industry practice and improved consumer outcomes followed ASIC’s deep dive review of direct sales of life insurance in 2018 and three years of concerted regulatory action. Notably, the deep dive review also informed the evidence base for several Hayne Royal Commission misconduct case studies. Our review uncovered egregious sales practices, with tens of thousands of consumers paying for products they did not want, did not need, or were not suitable for them.’
‘It’s really disappointing that despite OnePath offering refunds to around 26,000 consumers, less than one in two consumers (only 41%) have banked their cheque or arranged with OnePath for their refund to be paid into their bank account. If you are a OnePath or ANZ insurance customer who has been contacted by OnePath about a refund, please respond to OnePath to arrange payment of your refund. You can also call OnePath on 1800 290 572 if you are unsure of what to do or want to check this is not a scam’ said Ms Chester.
This remediation program by OnePath follows ASIC’s 2018 review of life insurance sold directly to consumers (that is, with no financial advice and outside of superannuation), which found high cancellation rates and poor claims outcomes in this sales channel.
To address ASIC’s concerns about these sales practices, OnePath is:
refunding premiums, with interest, to customers who purchased a life insurance policy which lapsed or was cancelled within two years of the sale;
reviewing past claims and complaints; and
waiving certain conditions for affected customers who still hold an active policy.
The remediation program started in July 2019 and is expected to finish in December 2021.
OnePath is writing to affected customers who purchased a life insurance policy between 2010 and 2016 with information about the premium refund arrangements.
Any questions about this remediation, including communications received offering refunds, should be raised with OnePath’s dedicated team by email at [email protected] or phone 1800 290 572.
OnePath’s consumer remediation program follows ASIC’s Report 587 The sale of direct life insurance (REP 587). This review found poor sales conduct resulted in consumers purchasing products which they did not want, could not afford or which did not perform as expected.
Other remediation programs secured by ASIC to address poor sales practices of direct life insurance include:
Freedom Insurance (see Freedom Insurance customers may be owed compensation: Genus Life Insurance Services is contacting customers)
ClearView (see media release 18-029MR)
CommInsure (see media release 19-314MR).
ASIC has also taken the following enforcement action in relation to the sale of direct life insurance:
criminal proceedings against CommInsure for hawking of life insurance, resulting in a conviction against CommInsure of 87 counts of breaching the law (see media release 19-313MR)
civil penalty proceedings commenced against Select AFSL, BlueInc Services Pty Ltd, Insurance Marketing Services Pty Ltd and director Russell Howden (see media release 19-244MR)