In furtherance of its role in building a common EU supervisory culture and consistent supervisory practices, in January 2015 EIOPA issued an opinion to the EU supervisory authorities concerning consumer protection issues related to insurance product sales via the internet.

The opinion stated that, in general, EIOPA expects customers to always receive the information they need, adapted proportionally to the product in question, and to always be treated fairly. It sees these as essential steps for ensuring customers get value for money and buy the right products for their needs. These standards are absolute, irrespective of the channel used by a customer to buy a product. The use of digital sales channels must not lead to lower expectations and standards, even if it does allow for fresh and innovative solutions.

In terms of direct supervisory activity, the feedback indicated that only limited actions have been reported at this stage. This may reflect the fact that sales via the internet are still at a relatively low volume in a number of jurisdictions. Some jurisdictions have taken some pre-emptive measures in this area, for instance in the form of ‘soft law’ such as supervisory guidelines and recommendations on insurance product management systems.

EIOPA concludes that supervisors are seeking to be vigilant regarding sales of insurance products via the internet. EIOPA notes that it will continue to monitor new and existing financial activities, including in the area of digital distribution. Given cross-sectoral aspects, important work is also being done under the Joint Committee of the three European Supervisory Authorities (EIOPA, the European Securities and Markets Authority, and the European Banking Authority).