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ASIC starts court action against Allianz over travel sales

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The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has started civil penalty proceedings in the Federal Court against Allianz Australia and AWP Australia, alleging a misleading sale of travel insurance through three websites run by Expedia.

ASIC says the conduct concerns alleged breaches of the Corporations Act and the ASIC Act relating to misleading and deceptive conduct and general licence obligations.

The regulator alleges that, in respect of certain travel insurance products sold through the Expedia websites in the period February 2015 to September 2018:

  • Allianz failed to correctly disclose the basis upon which premiums were calculated in the product disclosure statements made available on the websites
  • Allianz and/or AWP allowed the sale of insurance to customers who were ineligible to make claims under the policies; and
  • Allianz and/or AWP allowed the Expedia websites to misuse a quote from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade about the importance of purchasing travel insurance.

ASIC says AWP is responsible for the development and sale of travel insurance products issued by Allianz. Allianz and AWP are owned by the same parent company, Allianz SE.

The civil penalty proceeding concerns travel insurance products described as 'integrated' products.

“The insurance policies were sold through the Expedia websites upon the purchase of another travel product (for example, flights) and so were much like 'add-on insurance' products,” ASIC says.

“Towards the end of the purchase path of the travel product, the customer would be prompted to add travel insurance to their purchase.”

The regulator says it is seeking declarations and pecuniary penalties against Allianz and AWP.

Allianz says it is not able to comment in detail on the allegations.

“Allianz acknowledges the legal action by ASIC but, as the matter is now before the court, we are unable to comment further,” a spokesman told insuranceNEWS.com.au.