Virgin Money fined for misleading advertising

Virgin Money (Australia) Pty Limited has paid $30,600 in penalties after ASIC issued three infringement notices for misleading online and television advertising.

Each infringement notice attracted a penalty of $10,200, according to the corporate watchdog.

The misleading representations related to the promotion of Virgin Money’s ‘Quick & Easy’ life insurance product and appeared on television up until May 2013, and online up until March 2014.

ASIC was concerned that the advertising contained the following misleading representations about the process involved in applying for ‘Quick & Easy’ and the life insurance coverage provided under the product:

  • ‘No health or lifestyle questions’ would be asked by Virgin Money when in fact, the ‘Quick & Easy’ application form contained specific health and lifestyle questions, such as queries around smoking habits. Responses to these questions were then used to calculate premiums
  • ‘Weight is not a factor that affects coverage of the Product’, when in fact weight could be a relevant factor in determining coverage offered under ‘Quick & Easy’

“Purchasing life insurance is an important decision and consumers should be able to confidently rely on representations made to them in advertising,” ASIC deputy chairman Peter Kell said.

The payment of an infringement notice is not an admission of a contravention of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 consumer protection provisions.

ASIC can issue an infringement notice where it has reasonable grounds to believe a person has contravened certain consumer protection laws.

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