In response to Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) action and concerns, Allianz Australia Insurance Limited (Allianz) has compensated 740 Petplan insurance customers over $231,000, and its agent, Petplan Australasia Pty Ltd (Petplan) has corrected its Petplan advertising.

Petplan insurance provides cover for veterinary expenses. Petplan’s website promoted the insurance with a headline statement that the policy provided a 100% rebate on claims for veterinary bills. A small-print disclaimer qualified this by stating that the rebate excluded a fixed excess and non-claimable items. In fact customers cannot receive the 100% rebate for a claim made for a pet aged eight years and over due to a fixed excess and variable excess amount which is deducted from the final claim payment made to customers.

Allianz has agreed to:

  • remove all references to the 100% rebate from the website;
  • compensate relevant policyholders who had an excess amount deducted from their claim amount; and
  • update the product disclosure statement to clearly disclose the variable excess for pets aged eight years and over.

This outcome reinforces ASIC’s position in respect of fine print disclaimers and is consistent with ASIC’s guidance on the use of disclaimers. Whilst a headline cannot always include all information about the product, the more that a qualification is required to balance the information in the headline, the more prominently placed the qualification should be. It needs to have sufficient prominence to communicate key information. ASIC’s position is that information is less likely to be noticed if it is in fine print. It is also important that warnings, disclaimers and qualifications are not inconsistent with any other information in the advertisement, including headlines.

Further information can be found here.