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News : ASIC Moves to Ban the Insurance Hard Sell


Sydney, Australia, July, 2019 -- Unsolicited phone sales of life insurance and consumer credit insurance would be banned under a new proposal announced by ASIC.

The ban would offer interim protections to consumers ahead of the government's promised broader reforms following the banking royal commission.

ASIC Commissioner Sean Hughes said there was sufficient urgency that action was needed immediately.

"We need to step in now. We can put that ban in place towards the end of the year or early next year, whereas we just don’t know when the law will be changed to outlaw these practices through parliament," he said.

"This particular area has got so many negative stories around it, and such clear instances of consumer harm, as we heard in the cases in the Royal Commission."

The royal commission heard in September how a man with down syndrome had been sold life insurance over the phone after being cold-called by ASX-listed Freedom Insurance.

The 26 year-old man’s father, Baptist minister Grant Stewart, said his son was contacted several times by telemarketers, including by an overseas call centre "fishing" for interest on behalf of local companies.

He welcomed the proposed ban, which would prohibit sales to customers whose details had been acquired through telemarketing, existing relationships with the company, or online platforms such as surveys or competitions.

"Certainly if the ban helps stop the telemarketers who are often incentivised to make sales by forcing these kind of sales onto vulnerable people, I think that’s a really good result," he said.

"It seems to me an immoral, certainly unethical, approach to target people who don’t necessarily have the capacity to understand. And to sell complex financial products on the phone, I don’t think that’s a good thing to do anyway.

"We didn’t know until he got an invoice in the mail, and he was quite embarrassed and thought it was his fault. So that’s what was what was upsetting to us, to think that it could have an impact like that on his self-esteem."

Mr Stewart said call transcripts showed the Freedom employees knew there was an issue with his son's understanding of the process.

An ASIC review last year found sales practices for direct life insurance led to poor consumer outcomes, including high cancellation rates and poor claims outcomes. Three in five of all policies sold were found to have been cancelled within three years.

ASIC reports into life insurance and consumer credit insurance found that telemarketers used similar ‘unfair’ tactics to maximise sales including pressure selling, inadequate explanations about exclusions, and withholding or providing false information.

"We’re saying that where that person who is trying to sell the insurance to you is not your financial adviser and is not trying to offer you financial advice, and potentially the person may be offering you gift vouchers if you sign up today and give them your credit card details, we think that is pressure selling and it has to stop," Mr Hughes said.

Consumer Action Law Centre chief executive Gerard Brody said cold-calling was an "outdated and abusive: practice, with a significant risk of misleading people.

"The evidence shows that these products offer very little value for customers. They pay out really low amounts of money in claims compared to the premiums made by the companies and that sort of truth isn’t disclosed in a telemarketing call," he said.

"It’s people who are experiencing some sort of vulnerability, older people, people with disabilities, people who don't speak english as their first language... [who] end up agreeing to arrangements that they don’t necessarily understand.

"Many people are just trying to be polite on the phone, and when you've got that sales person there putting pressure or making it sound like its too good to be true, that’s where the risk is."

Financial Services Council senior policy manager, life insurance Nick Kirwan said certain "safeguards", such as a deferred sales model, could prevent pressure selling without banning unsolicited calls altogether.

"Businesses do need to be able to contact existing customers to discuss products and services a business reasonably believes are relevant and appropriate for the customer, provided there are safeguards," Kirwan said.

"For example, if a bank approves a person’s mortgage, it would make sense to call the customer to ensure they are aware of the possible relevance of life insurance and home and contents insurance, provided no sales take place on that first call."

But ASIC's Mr Hughes said a deferred sales model would be a weak safeguard.

"We’re here to protect consumers, we’re not here to make it easy for people to peddle products that are unsuitable for consumers," he said.

"A deferred sales model is not going to fix that problem, because when you’re talking about people with special disadvantages or who may not understand the complexity of the product, they’ll probably still be able to buy it."


Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent

About ASIC:
Company LogoThe Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) is an independent Australian government body that acts as Australia's corporate regulator. ASIC's role is to enforce and regulate company and financial services laws to protect Australian consumers, investors and creditors. ASIC administers a range of legislation (or relevant parts of Acts), as well as relevant regulations made under it:
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Today's Tip of the Day - Getting The Training Underway

Read today's tip or listen to it on podcast.

Published: Monday, July 22, 2019

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2020 Buyers Guide Inbound Call Handling Services


Calls are received by the right person or department. The right corresponding information is shown to the agent which makes that appointments are handled quicker and more secure.


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Agara is available for several industries including banking, insurance, retail, e-commerce, airlines, and telecom. Powered by advanced Real-time Voice AI that understands speech in real-time, automatically determines the right process to follow and guides the caller along in the process with natural conversation.
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Call Center Studio

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Call Center Studio is the world’s first call center built on Google and is one of the most secure and stable systems with some of the industry’s best reporting. It is one of the most full-featured enterprise grade systems (with the most calling features, one of the best call distribution, outbound dialing features and integrations—including IVR, AI Speech Recognition, blended inbound/outbound calling and includes Google’s new Dialogflow and Speech API. Call Center Studio is the absolute easiest to use (with a 10 minute setup), and is the price performance leader with lower equipment cost and less setup time.
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We’re a specialist Contact Centre business and market leaders helping socially focused organisations deliver quality support to their clients and service users. We do this by providing 24/7 helplines, software solutions and consultancy services.

Since launching in 2006, we’ve operated at the sharp end of customer service, supporting some of society’s most vulnerable people. We’ve pioneered in our space to become a specialist in helplines, whilst using the most advanced communication and database technologies available.

Our social mission has remained a constant throughout, providing many meaningful career prospects and growth opportunities to people within our local communities and fur...
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Jointly International Inc.

Front Office Solutions
Front office is your Company’s first line of customer interaction and serves as the mirror of your business. Focus on your core business and let our competent staff handle your various front office needs such as:

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By catering valuable, usable and enjoyable customer service, businesses can increase their CSAT Score and Customer Retention Rate. We help organizations to provide quality customer service through varied channels like email, phone and live chat. Ensuring quality after-sales support is our USP and we rely on proven approaches to ensure quality customer service.

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The SPEED solution solves for service level issues while cost optimizing the environment with automation.

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VADS Inbound Contact Center Services provide live operators who answer incoming calls as you would yourself. A team of professional script writers is available to help you script a greeting and experience programmers will set up a time and money saving program. Our unique approach to call center services is client-focused, and takes each project’s unique needs into account to our client’s satisfaction. We offer solution as part of our service to keep you in touch with your client and drive sales.

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Any part of your business operations that requires constant end-customer facing task is an essential part of your business.

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