Optus to hand back $2.4m to phone insurance customers

Telco self-reported breach of AFSL obligations to ASIC

Some 175,000 Optus customers will receive refunds totalling $2.4 million after the telco failed to provide some customers of its mobile phone insurance offerings with a product disclosure statement and a financial services guide.

Optus last year self-reported the breach of its Australian financial services licence (AFSL) obligations to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). After enquiries from ASIC the telco found a number of further breaches.

Those breaches included customers not receiving a month of free insurance they were entitled to under a promotional offer; customers being incorrectly charged a premium for insurance during a ‘rain-check’ period; customers not being provided with information about excesses and cooling-off rights when purchasing a policy over the phone; and customers being issued the wrong policy.

“Optus has taken a number of steps to prevent future mistakes including providing stores with sufficient copies of the product disclosure statement and additional training for employees who deal with or sell insurance products,” a spokesperson for the telco said.

“Optus has agreed to write to around 500,000 current and former customers who took an Optus insurance product between December 2008 and August 2015, and may have been affected by these errors.”

The spokesperson said that customers could contact Optus on 1800 854 349 for more information.

“It is important that when a business is licensed by ASIC to sell financial products to retail consumers, it ensures that it does so consistently with the representations it has made to consumers, and in compliance with the financial services laws,” ASIC deputy chairperson Peter Kell said.

“Where consumers have suffered a detriment, it is important that remediation is undertaken, and that steps are taken to ensure that the business is operating in compliance with the relevant legal obligations.”

Optus has contracted an external firm to review its AFSL compliance functions.

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