In a hearing thus far littered by admissions of wrongdoing by Clearview, the Royal Commission has heard the insurer’s chief actuary and risk officer, Gregory Martin, detail how the firm breached anti-hawking laws by targeting members of the public with unsolicited calls.
Under questioning from Senior Counsel assisting the Commission, Rowena Orr QC, Martin acknowledged that, according to a breach notice Clearview received, the insurer had breached the law through most of the calls it made through its alliance with Bupa.
While Martin said he couldn’t quantify the amount of breaches “off the top of his head”, he estimated it was around 10,000 to 12,000 times. The breaches occurred “at least for the period of the Clearview Direct business”, so from late 2013 to 2016, when Martin said the call scripting was changed.
He testified that it was clear to Clearview now that most of its Bupa business was achieved in breach of the anti-hawking provisions. Of 32,000 policies sold in that time, Martin thought approximately 40 per cent “or a bit more” were through Bupa, and that “potentially all” of these were breaches as Clearview did not have positive affirmation that they wanted to be called.
Martin believed the cause of the breaches were that potential customers who were contacted did not opt in to receive the calls sufficiently, and that Clearview then failed to meet all the tests under the unsolicited call arm of the law. He stressed that the insurer did meet some of these tests, however.
Martin was later pushed by Orr as to why he gave the number of sales made as the number of breaches, rather than the number of calls made. She reinforced that the breach occurs through the call, regardless of whether a sale is made.
Based on this, Orr said that in reality 300,000 to 303,000 breaches were made by Clearview in that three-year period, which Martin admitted was accurate.
Martin said that the insurer had given this figure to ASIC, but Orr said Clearview had given a figure smaller than this to the Commission. Martin said that this was a mistake and confirmed the number of breaches was 300,000 to 303,000.
In response to extended questioning from Orr as to how unsolicited people were identified to call, Martin said that there were two main sources. The first came from Clearview’s strategic alliance with Bupa, through which the latter supplied Clearview with databases that were available to be called, typically monthly or quarterly.
The second was through a third party or partner contacting a potential customer and asking for their consent for Clearview to call them. Martin understood that product disclosures were sent to all people contacted through these two means before Clearview called them.
Martin also admitted that Clearview sourced the details of people to contact by buying those details from third parties and through a website where people would register their details then click on a Clearview ad.
Martin acknowledged that he was aware that breaching the anti-hawking provisions constituted criminal conduct. He said, however, that the insurer was not aware that it was in breach of the law when the misconduct occurred.