How do I record information when making direct insurance purchases?

Are you convinced that your insurance purchase has been made under the terms and conditions that you have agreed to? Once you put the phone down – would the correct information be recorded and would you receive the necessary documentation as proof?

Even though direct marketers are required to record information, and even though this should not pose too much of a dilemma, this is often not as simple as we tend to believe. It is most often the “extra” questions we raise and confirmations we require which are most important to us. I have been confronted with such a scenario which I would like to share as an example:

Example:

A friend of mine had vehicle insurance at a R455 monthly premium. She decided to compare insurance and shared her findings with me.

The direct insurer provided similar cover with a much reduced premium of R284 per month and offered general liability at R5m + small dent policy. She was rather exited to find that the premium will be “fixed” for 3 years and decided that she does not mind very much the R205 joining fee in the comparison.

She decided to change her insurance from her broker and went the direct route.

My friend was contacted during last week and informed of premium increases. She told the insurer that she does not accept any increases as the agreement was that the premiums would be “fixed”.

Response from Insurer:

“As requested before, we have listened to all your initial recordings done with Insurer XYZ and have not found any agreement on selection of guaranteed option. Please contact us on …… should you have any further queries.”

Reply from the Client:

“I disagree. I spoke to more than one consultant before I initially signed up. I hope you listened to ALL my conversations with Insurer XYZ.

Please call me on …………to discuss. I do NOT accept your increase effective 1 May. One of the reasons I joined Insurer XYZ was because you guaranteed a premium for 3 years.”

Direct Marketing and the Law

The consumer is protected under several laws and regulations. We referred to this in an earlier blog post titled “How do Policyholder Protection Rules protect consumers purchasing insurance online?”

What does the law require with regards to recording of information?

I would like to quote:

Procedures and Systems Required

4.2 (a) A direct marketer must have appropriate procedures and systems in place to—

(i) record all verbal and written communications relating to the direct marketing to a policyholder as are contemplated in these Rules;

(ii) store and retrieve transaction documentation and all other documentation relating to the policyholder; and

(iii) keep the policyholder records and documentation safe from destruction.

(b) Records may be kept in an appropriate electronic or recorded format, which are accessible and readily reducible to written or printed form.

(c) Disclosure records and documentation pertaining thereto must, in any particular case, be kept for a period of at least five years after termination, to the knowledge of the direct marketer, of the relevant policy or, in any other case, after completion of the relevant marketing process, and must be available timeously upon request to the registrar for inspection, and copies thereof must at the request of a policyholder be furnished to such holder.

Advice to insurance clients

Even though the consumer is protected and could find comfort in knowing that the communication must be recorded, much of the disputed and uncertainty could be avoided by following a few steps. We would like to advise that consumers also do a part of the process of information capturing on their own and for their own records:

  • Create an insurance file and add this to your records along with other financial documentation.
  • Keep all the provided policy documentation and notifications in this file.
  • When communicating with your direct insurer or broker, keep a calendar of communications and interaction with the insurer.
  • Note and write down the date and time of communications made via your phone.
  • Write down any possible numbers or codes provided by the call centre operator pertaining to the call.
  • Write down the name of the call centre operator.
  • Ask to be emailed or sent any confirmations about your discussions.
  • When doing business online, scan any documentation or keep the PDF files on record in a folder created for your insurance or financial interests.
  • Keep record of any electronic payments made to the insurer and such payment history.

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