Health insurance comparison firm Choosewell Health Insurance Comparison Pty Ltd (HICC) has admitted breaching the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) by failing to inform consumers of their cancellation rights, including a cooling-off period of 10 working days, when entering into unsolicited consumer agreements for private health insurance.
HICC has engaged companies as third-party lead generators to initiate unsolicited telephone contact with consumers on its behalf before negotiating agreements with those consumers for the provision of health insurance services by a partner insurer.
HICC admitted to entering into unsolicited consumer agreements without informing consumers verbally and in writing of their rights under the ACL to terminate the contract, how they could terminate the contract, and that the health insurance provider n was not entitled to request payment before the end of the 10 working day withdrawal period.
The ACCC has accepted a three-year, court-enforceable undertaking from HICC in which HICC agrees not to enter into unsolicited contracts of sale without giving consumers verbal and written information about their rights to cancel, and notifying the relevant health insurance provider that the contract resulted from an unsolicited consumer agreement.
In addition, following the issuance of a notice of violation by the ACCC, HICC paid a fine of $13,320 in connection with its admitted failure to provide a consumer in writing with information about its cancellation rights. after the phone call during which the agreement was negotiated.
The ACL contains consumer protections that apply to specific unsolicited sales practices, such as door-to-door sales or telemarketing.
“Businesses are reminded that they cannot circumvent their obligations regarding unsolicited consumer agreements under Australian Consumer Law by employing third party lead generators to contact consumers on their behalf,” it said. said ACCC Commissioner Liza Carver.
“Australian consumer law is designed to protect consumers from sellers who contact them without prior invitation or request at home, in public or by telephone.”
“Consumer protection for unsolicited consumer agreements includes a cooling-off period of 10 business days during which a consumer may cancel the agreement for any reason without penalty or payment. Companies involved in unsolicited sales, or their representatives, must also inform consumers of their rights and how to exercise them,” Ms Carver said.
HICC has also undertaken to implement a compliance program focused on the ACL requirements for unsolicited consumer agreements.
A copy of the commitment is available at Choosewell Health Insurance Comparison Pty Ltd.
More information on unsolicited sales arrangements is available at Telemarketing and door-to-door selling.
HICC is a health insurance consultancy service that operates an online health insurance comparison service through the website www.compareclub.com.au. HICC compares health insurance products provided by partner insurers.
HICC is part of Compare Club Australia, an online comparison service which offers comparison advice services on a range of products including health insurance, life insurance, home loans and energy.
From at least October 2014 through December 2021, HICC acted as a reseller in initiating negotiations with consumers following unsolicited phone calls to enter into agreements to provide health insurance services.
Payment of a penalty specified in an infringement notice is not an admission of an infringement of Australian consumer law.
The ACCC may issue a Notice of Infringement where it has reasonable grounds to believe that a person or business has breached certain consumer protection provisions of the Australian Consumer Law.