CommInsure pleads guilty to hawking offences

The Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society Limited, trading as CommInsure, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA)has pleaded guilty to 87 counts of offering to sell insurance products in the course of unlawful, unsolicited telephone calls, contrary to provisions the Corporations Act. This conduct is known as “hawking”.

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 (previous coverage here).

CommInsure provided customer contact details to Aegon from CBA’s existing customer database. The CBA customers had not requested to be contacted for the sale of Simple Life by CommInsure, or persons on CommInsure’s behalf, or to receive marketing information from CommInsure.

In all of the 87 calls charged, CommInsure did not comply with the requirement to offer the customer the option of having the information required to be included in the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) for Simple Life read to them prior to the offer to issue or sell the product.

In 14 of the calls charged, CommInsure also failed to meet the requirements to:

  • give the customer a PDS before becoming bound to acquire Simple Life; and
  • clearly inform the customer of the importance of using the information in the PDS when making a decision to acquire Simple Life.

This matter is being prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions after an investigation and referral of a prosecution brief by ASIC. CommInsure will be sentenced at a later time.