South African insurer Youi has been fined over $300,000 in the Auckland District Court after pleading guilty to 15 charges of misleading customers.
The charges were brought by the Commerce Commission, whose lawyer Alysha McClintock said some people calling the company for a quote were asked for their bank information and invoiced for a policy instead, TVNZ reported.
“They were actively misleading people as to what they were doing,” she said.
Some people then would have trouble trying to cancel the unwanted policy.
McClintock said 15 representative charges had been laid but the actual level of offending was unclear, the report said.
“It simply can’t be said how many times this occurred.”
Youi’s lawyer Oliver Meech said the company ‘deeply regretted’ the behaviour that had occurred.
Today’s appearance follows the $100,000 fine Youi received by the Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ) for misconduct two months ago.
The company had set aside $350,000 to cover the potential costs of today’s fine, according to their annual financial statements.
Following the sentencing, Youi released a statement saying it had publicly apologised and had taken steps to restructure systems, processes and employee incentives to improve customer service.
It had also fully refunded all customers to whom policies were inappropriately issued from July 2014 (when the company started trading in New Zealand) to date.
The number of customers affected was less than 0.2% of policies issued for the same period, it said.
CEO Danie Matthee said Youi was looking forward to continuing to provide much needed competition in the New Zealand market.
“While this behaviour was never condoned by the company, we have acknowledged that errors were made and that even one error of this nature was too many,” Matthee said.
“We cooperated fully with the Commerce Commission which acknowledged our ‘cooperation, remorse and remedial steps’.
“We are confident that our restructured systems and processes mean the issues won’t happen again.”
He said the company’s focus was now to continue to grow its New Zealand business and ‘provide awesome service to its 50,000 plus customers’, thousands of whom had had their say and posted feedback on the Youi Wall.
“We are also committed to the almost 400 Kiwis we employ locally, and the broader insurance market where Youi provides much needed product differentiation and price competition,” he said.
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