Ma­jor SA in­sur­ance firm in hot water

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - CARYN DOLLEY

ONE OF South Africa’s big­gest in­sur­ance com­pa­nies is in hot water in New Zealand, af­ter plead­ing guilty in that coun­try to more than a dozen ma­jor mis­con­duct charges – in­clud­ing deb­it­ing con­sumers’ bank ac­counts with­out their per­mis­sion.

Man­agers at Youi, sis­ter com­pany of South Africa’s OUT­surance, ad­mit­ted to 15 trans­gres­sions.

It was also an­nounced this week that, as a re­sult, Youi had been fined the max­i­mum pos­si­ble penalty of $100 000 (R993 000). Ac­cord­ing to the OUT­surance web­site, Youi, which stands for You Insured, is a short-term in­surer which “fol­lows the same cus­tomer-ori­en­tated ap­proach that has made OUT­surance suc­cess­ful in South Africa”. The Youi web­site said it com­plied with the South African In­sur­ance As­so­ci­a­tion.

But this week the Board of the In­sur­ance Coun­cil of New Zealand an­nounced that Youi had pleaded guilty to 15 charges, and warned that any fur­ther mis­con­duct on its part would re­sult in the ter­mi­na­tion of its

coun­cil mem­ber­ship.

Willem Roos, chief ex­ec­u­tive of OUT­surance Hold­ings, Youi’s par­ent com­pany, told Week­end Ar­gus they were deal­ing with the mat­ter.

He said a few un­re­lated in­ci­dents of mis­con­duct had been picked up in South Africa.

“We have iden­ti­fied iso­lated in­stances of un­ac­cept­able sales prac­tices in South Africa.”

“OUT­surance has also en­gaged our reg­u­la­tor, the Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices Board, on the mat­ter to en­sure they are fully in­formed,” Roos said.

He added there was no reg­u­la­tory in­ves­ti­ga­tion into OUT­surance.

He was con­fi­dent there was no “sys­tem­atic prob­lem of a sim­i­lar na­ture” within OUT­surance re­lat­ing to Youi.

In Au­gust, New Zealand’s Com­merce Com­mis­sion filed charges against Youi New Zealand in the Auck­land Dis­trict Court.

The com­mis­sion al­leged Youi “em­ployed mis­lead­ing sales tech­niques when at­tempt­ing to sell poli­cies to con­sumers who were only seek­ing a quote”.

These mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tions were car­ried out be­tween July 2014 and Fe­bru­ary.

A state­ment by the board of the In­sur­ance Coun­cil of New Zealand said Youi pleaded guilty to charges in­clud­ing:

Deb­it­ing con­sumers’ bank or credit cards with­out their per­mis­sion.

Is­su­ing in­voices “in re­la­tion to un­so­licited in­sur­ance poli­cies” with­out spec­i­fy­ing the con­sumer was not obliged to pay.

Mak­ing false state­ments to con­sumers. This in­cluded telling con­sumers their bank or credit card de­tails were needed in or­der for them to re­ceive a quote.

Mak­ing mis­lead­ing state­ments on its web­site about con­sumers get­ting quotes on­line.

The South African In­sur­ance As­so­ci­a­tion de­clined to com­ment on the mat­ter be­cause Youi was not one of its mem­bers.

caryn.dolley@inl.co.za TIDES High to­day ......... 7.20pm, 7.37pm To­mor­row .......... 8.48am, 9.16pm Low to­day ........ 12.54am, 1.30pm To­mor­row .......... 2.06am, 3.10pm Spring tides ....................... Oct 16 .......................................... Oct 30 Neap Tides .......................... Oct 9 .......................................... Oct 22 SUN/MOON Sun­rise to­day .................. 6.14am Sun­set to­day ................... 6.53pm Moon rises to­day ........... 11.11am Moon sets to­mor­row...... 12.33am Spring Tides: Nu + Full Moon Oct 1 Oct 16 Neap Tides: 1st + Last ¼ 9 Oct 22 Oct

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