100,000 franc fines for unwanted health insurance brokers: will spam calls stop?
The new rules imposed by the insurance industry on finding new clients seem to be having an effect. Customer ads are declining. But is it the calls?
Health insurance companies are again recruiting new clients, and the insured can change their health insurance company until the end of November. Experts hypothesize that policyholders are now using them more than ever before. Because premiums will rise by an average of 6.6% in 2023. And with the change, you can quickly save a few hundred francs a year.
In addition to advertising, brokers and comparison services are among the most important tools for acquiring new customers. Phone calls have been a private source of excitement for years. Trained or less professional brokers want to talk you into new insurance without you being asked.
The industry has realized that this kind of customer acquisition is also counterproductive, it annoys people. But they seem to be very effective: no major health insurer wants to do without them. Against this background, insurers developed an industry agreement that has been in use since 2021 and sets minimum standards.
For example, the notorious cold calling is prohibited: if the interested person did not express interest in a product before the call and did not purchase services from the service provider. Furthermore, brokers must be trained and, in the case of a call, disclose who they are working for and the purpose of the call.
Monitoring by the Supervisory Board
In order to check whether insurance companies comply with the rules, they are monitored by a supervisory committee. Lucius Dorr, chair of the Fair Mediation Oversight Committee, told the media on Tuesday that violations of the rules had been penalized recently.
“Our activity has consequences: we issue warnings and impose fines of more than 100,000 francs.”
In 2022, the commission found violations by the industry association in four cases — and fined the health insurance company involved.
The crimes are very different. In one case, during a home visit, the mediator failed to record the consultation. The insured thought he had signed an offer, but then received a completed insurance application.
In another case, a person participated in a contest for tickets to an amusement park and thus unknowingly agreed to a home visit from an insurance broker. In a third case, the insured was contacted by an intermediary who did not identify himself by phone. Since there was a physical meeting later and the agent made an offer, cold calling can be demonstrated.
Evidence of crimes is diminishing
However, in many cases, it is difficult to prove wrongdoing because the name of the caller and his employer are often unknown. In general, the Stewardship Committee relies on information and residents’ participation in order to do its work. But the clues come back. While about 300 reports were received by health insurance associations in the year prior to the industry agreement (2020), in 2021 there were still 110 reports of violations.
Since the beginning of the year, the Steering Committee has received 87 tips. He explains the role of backtracking by saying that cold calling has declined sharply since the introduction of monitoring. Self-regulation has proven its worth.
The numbers for the number of (legal) agent calls are still not there. However, according to Dorr, the supervisory committee wants to raise this matter. But there are signs that this business is doing well despite the increase in regulation. Compensation for a successful placement may cost no more than 75 francs in basic insurance. When additional insurance is arranged, the maximum compensation is one annual premium. Restricting financial incentives is important, says Patricia Pisente, vice chair of the oversight committee. Because fees are funded by installments.
Pressure remains high for brokers to make insurance contracts, Lucius Durr knows. More than 8,000 brokers are still registered with the Capital Market Authority.
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