Allianz and AWP hit with criminal charges over alleged travel insurance misrepresentations

Allianz and AWP hit with criminal charges over alleged travel insurance misrepresentations

Criminal charges have been laid against Allianz Australia and AWP Australia, with the corporate watchdog alleging both made false statements about travel insurance products.

Allianz has been charged with seven counts, and AWP with one, of making false or misleading statements regarding the sale of Allianz domestic and travel insurance.

The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) alleges between 2016 and 2018, Allianz and AWP published information online - including on Allianz's domestic, basic and comprehensive travel insurance web pages - that misrepresented the characteristics or level of coverage of travel insurance on sale to consumers.

The watchdog alleges, in some instances, the website advertised the maximum travel insurance benefits payable to customers, but failed to state that particular sub-limits, terms, conditions or exclusions could operate to limit those benefits.

As such, Allianz could be facing a maximum penalty of $8.1 million for each charge. If found guilty on all seven, the insurer could be hit with $56.7 million in fines.

Allianz was the underwriter of the travel insurance products and AWP was a distributor of the products.

ASIC's case was referred to the watchdog for investigation by the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.

So far the watchdog has undertaken a range of regulatory responses to the alleged conduct, including securing $10 million in customer remediation from Allianz and AWP for travel insurance potentially mis-sold to around 31,500 customers.

On 30 September 2020, ASIC commenced separate civil proceedings in the Federal court action against Allianz and AWP for allegedly misleading consumers on Expedia travel websites.

The matter is listed for further mention on 20 April, 2021 in Sydney.

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