Australia:Bank's insurance arm allegedly sold life insurance policies over the phone unlawfully

| 08 Oct 2019

The Colonial Mutual Life Insurance Society Ltd, trading as CommInsure, has been charged with 87 counts of offering to sell insurance products in the course of non-compliant unsolicited telephone calls.

CommInsure is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA).

Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) alleges that between October and December 2014, CommInsure, through its agent, telemarketing firm Aegon Insights Australia Pty Ltd (Aegon), unlawfully sold life insurance policies known as Simple Life over the phone.

CommInsure provided customer contact details to Aegon from CBA’s existing customer database.

ASIC alleges that the calls to CBA customers were unsolicited, and that CommInsure did not comply with all of the hawking exceptions in section 992A(3) of the Corporations Act.

The maximum penalty for each of the charges is 125 penalty units ($21,250), or $2.7 million in total.

The matter has been listed for the first mention on 19 November 2019 at the Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney.

The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions is prosecuting the matter.

As this is a criminal matter before the Court, ASIC will not be making further comment.

According to a CBA statement, “The alleged contraventions relate to telephone sales of Simple Life insurance products by CMLA in the period 7 October 2014 to 16 December 2014, a practice that ceased at the end of 2014. These matters had been the subject of an investigation by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). CMLA reported breaches of anti-hawking provisions to ASIC.

“CBA and CommInsure are considering the matter and CBA does not intend to comment further at this time.”


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