It’s a niche market that is getting a lot of attention. Mobile and tablet covers sold by operators (SFR, Free etc.) but also certain distribution brands (Boulanger or Fnac-Darty) constitute 7% of the 10,500 referrals recorded in 2020 in terms of non-life insurance, according to the mediator of insurance, Arnaud Chneiweiss. A much higher percentage than the market share of these products. As a reminder, this type of contract, sometimes billed for more than 20 euros per month, protects your phone against breakage, theft and possibly oxidation. Two factors are at the origin of the dissatisfaction of policyholders.
First of all, the subscriptions … which have never been made. “Insureds are sometimes not even aware of having signed up to an insurance contract, the existence of which they discover due to withdrawals from their bank account,” said the activity report, published on August 30. At that point, it is too late to renounce the contract, because the withdrawal period of fourteen days set by the Consumer Code has then passed. ” The holder of the mobile is then committed for one year, without being able to terminate free of charge.
Who is to blame: the seller who was not clear or the customer who signed without understanding? To the seller, considers the mediation body: “One can validly question, on the one hand, the effective delivery of the documents to the subscriber, and on the other hand, the quality of the information provided by the seller of the principal good” . The UFC-Que Choisir thus lodged a complaint in 2018 against the broker SFAM and its distributor at the time, Fnac, for deceptive marketing practices on their mobile insurance products. Arnaud Chneiweiss pleads for better training for sales representatives offering the contract, but also for an extension of the withdrawal period to one month.
These situations, already costly and a source of litigation, can even take on a whole new dimension. “Numerous testimonials we have received show forced sales”, reveals the mediator. The procedure is simple, to say the least, but effective: the seller, claiming that his job is at stake, asks the individual to take out insurance. Promising in passing that it can be terminated after one month. Problem: the legal deadline is 14 days and the customer finds himself hired for a period without having wanted to. “In law, this is called a swindle,” insists Arnaud Chneiweiss.
Faced with this situation, the insurance mediation has also repeatedly called on the companies named in the testimonies, but also the Federation of Guarantees and Affinity Insurance (FG2A). Without success. “What must be done to be able to be heard? Make “name and shame”? ”Asks Arnaud Chneiweiss. Behind this anglicism (“to name and blame” in French) hides a practice which consists in denouncing shortcomings through public communication to encourage compliance with regulations, and in the process, attack the reputation of the company. It is inconceivable that professionals do not realize that this practice considerably harms their image ”he continues.
Unfortunately, there are not many solutions for policyholders who are victims of deceptive practices. The 2019 justice modernization law requires them to attempt mediation for disputes below 5,000 euros, before going to court. Following the summer publication of the report of the Advisory Committee on the Financial Sector (CCSF), a reform of the referral to mediation is also on track, to make life easier for individuals. “The ball is in the court of the Prudential Control and Resolution Authority”, summarizes the mediator. The insurers’ gendarme should take charge of drafting a new regulation.
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A long-standing requirement of consumer associations, the main measure consists in establishing a time limit for inputting two months after the “first written expression of the insured’s dissatisfaction with his insurer or broker”. Whether oral or written, therefore. A delay which may seem long but which is in reality a step forward. Because currently, the procedure to reach mediation looks like an obstacle course. According to the principle of “escalation”, the customer must contact an advisor, then the company’s complaints department, before finally being able to seize an out-of-court settlement. A welcome simplification, which however raises the question of the explosion of referrals recorded by the Mediator, and the latter’s ability to meet the expectations of households.
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