Insurance company Youi NZ has been fined $320,000 in the Auckland District Court for breaching the Fair Trading Act.

The fine follows a Commerce Commission investigation into misleading tactics used by the insurer to sell policies between July 2014 and February 2016.

  1. When consumers logged on to youi.co.nz, it seemed they could generate an online quote by entering their personal details. Instead, many received an unexpected phone call from a Youi representative.
  2. Youi told some consumers they needed to provide bank or credit card details over the phone in order to generate a quote (this wasn’t true).
  3. Following the sales pitch, some consumers were issued with policies they didn’t expect or want. The company sent letters demanding payment for unsolicited policies and/or debited consumers’ accounts without their permission.

“In the worst-case scenario, Youi was able to attract a customer and obtain their contact details through pretext, set up policies they did not want and then charge them without permission. At the same time Youi made it difficult for them to cancel the policy and get refunded,” commissioner Anna Rawlings said.

Youi belongs to the Rand Merchant Insurance Holdings Group, a large insurer registered in South Africa. The New Zealand-based subsidiary opened its doors to consumers in July 2014.

In October 2016, Youi was fined $100,000 by the Insurance Council of New Zealand for failing to conduct its business in accordance with the industry’s code.

According to the company, all customers issued unsolicited policies have been refunded.