Alert on the forced sale of insurance for mobile phones

Cell phone insurance can be sold in France in a “forced” way, the insurance mediator warned on Monday.

“We have a lot of testimonies”, insisted Arnaud Chneiweiss on the occasion of the presentation of the annual report of the Insurance Mediation. This can be approached by policyholders dissatisfied with their insurer and make, in complete independence, proposals for amicable solutions to put an end to the disputes. It made nearly 3,600 complaints last year and received some 17,400 referrals.

“We have policyholders who tell us ‘I have never asked to take out telephone insurance’,” says the mediator. It wasn’t until they read their bank statement that these individuals realized they had purchased coverage. The withdrawal period is officially fourteen days but if it is exceeded, the mediator asks the insurer to cancel the contract.

Towards “name and shame”?

“We must really put an end to these behaviors which are first of all contrary to the law and which considerably damage the image of the profession”, insisted the mediator. “The next step is to do ‘name and shame’,” he warned. And to advocate for better training for sellers and an extension of the withdrawal period from fourteen days to, for example, one month.

“Mobile phone operators do not practice forced selling. It is extremely controlled ”, retorts Patrick Raffort, the president of the Federation of the guarantees and affinity insurance (which covers the insurance of telephones, bank cards or for cancellation of trip). This invites us to put the number of complaints into perspective – “a few hundred out of around 1 million new contracts sold per year”. Before adding that these contracts are useful for covering claims because “in 9 out of 10 cases, they are taken care of”.

An “extremely controlled” process

Affinity insurance accounted for 18% of non-life insurance disputes last year, “much more than their market share”, notes the Insurance Mediation. In addition to the problems of forced sales, it notes that guarantees can be very restrictive and poorly understood by policyholders.

The mediator also denounced Monday the presence of vague concepts, such as “negligence”, “the rules of the art” and “lack of maintenance” in the exclusion clauses of insurance contracts. And this, in spite of judgments of the Court of Cassation prohibiting the use of these concepts. “I find it embarrassing that clauses explicitly condemned by the highest court in the country are still in the contracts,” commented Arnaud Chneiweiss.

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