InsuranceLine penalised for misleading advertising

TAL Direct Pty Limited, trading as InsuranceLine, has paid a penalty of $10,200 after ASIC issued an infringement notice for false or misleading television advertisements promoting its income protection product.

The advertisements depicted a couple in their backyard, with a voiceover saying:

‘This is Kylie. This is her hubby Tom. And this is the bite Kylie got in Bali which will lead to a nasty infection leaving her off work for five weeks. And this is Kylie and Tom’s Income Protection Plus that she took out last year just in case something like this happened. It’ll keep their bank balance healthy while Kylie’s recovering.’

The written representations on the screen stated:

  • ‘Illness and injury cover up to 85% of income to $10,000 a month’ 
  • There were also a number of fine print statements at the bottom of the screen, including:
  • ‘Waiting periods, payout periods, limitations and exclusions apply’

ASIC was concerned that the representations in the advertisements were false or misleading, as they were likely to give the impression that a person off work for five weeks due to eligible ill-health would be entitled to:

  • a benefit from the product for the entire five weeks. In fact, such a person’s claim would be subject to a minimum waiting period of at least 14 days, and up to 28, 60 or  90 days depending on the policy chosen, during which the person would not be entitled to any benefits from the product.
  • receive into their bank account at least part of any benefits to which they were entitled during the five weeks they were off work. However, the product’s Product Disclosure Statement specified that claimants would be paid a month in arrears, and only after it had been confirmed that they had been continuously off work for the duration of the applicable waiting period.

ASIC considered the fine print in the advertisement was insufficient to correct any misleading impression created on any viewing, due to its lack of details, clarity and prominence.

ASIC Deputy Chairman, Mr Peter Kell said, ‘In this case, the benefits portrayed by the advertisements could not be obtained by consumers due to the way the product operated.’

‘Promoted benefits of a product must be consistent with what the product will in practice provide.’

InsuranceLine immediately ceased broadcasting the advertisement after being notified of ASIC’s concerns.

The payment of an infringement notice is not an admission of a contravention of the ASIC Act consumer protection provisions. ASIC can issue an infringement notice where it has reasonable grounds to believe a person has contravened certain consumer protection laws.

 

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