Advisers have been urged to check the origin of protection leads amid concerns of reputational damage to the industry.
Speaking at a Protection Review event today (July 9), Vicky Churcher, intermediary director at AIG Life, warned intermediaries against purchasing leads “without knowing exactly where they come from, and how they’re generated”.
Ms Churcher said rogue lead generation adverts “do absolutely nothing to build the credibility and professionalism in our industry, nor reflect the true value of what distributors, life insurers and reinsurers do to help protect families when they need it most”.
The warning follows a ‘Keep Protection Tidy’ campaign by AIG Life that aims to reduce the impact of poor lead generation on its customers, intermediary partners and the industry, by investigating and reporting examples of poor lead generation.
Ms Churcher said the provider had traced poor lead generation adverts to companies based in countries including Romania, the Seychelles and Slovenia.
According to Ms Churcher, some customers have been misled on the “true identity of the lead generator” by claiming to be an insurance company or another “trusted brand”.
She added: “Many leads are recycled. They are sold to multiple parties, which can result in customers being contacted several times, over and over, and in some cases, vulnerable customers actually buying several unwanted policies.
“But worst of all, customers are often advised to lie, or not to disclose their true medical or occupational position to bypass underwriting, which means when they come to claim, of course, the claim can be rejected for non-disclosure reasons.”
Out of 11 “poor” lead generation examples investigated by AIG Life, four were deemed by the provider as “quite serious” and reported to the Advertising Standards Authority.
A further two examples were deemed “okay” but misused the AIG logo or trademark.
A report by technology platform Contact State and life insurance broker LifeSearch has recommended that leads generated online should be certified to enable intermediaries to audit and challenge life insurance adverts used to introduce them to potential clients.
Alain Desmier, founder of fair data advocates Contact State, who also spoke at the event, said it was "not anti-competitive" to tackle rogue lead generation.
"We need to do something", he urged listeners, as he warned "a multi-million pound General Data Protection Regulation breach is just around the corner" if we do not take action.
He told listeners to be active; the Advertising Standards Agency does not hold only the lead generator responsible for sending out rogue advertising; the lead buyer is also directly liable. "If you are buying fraudulent leads, you are at risk", he added.
Mr Desmier urged attendees to take action, even to the extent of signing up for one of these spurious leads and then, when getting through to the company buying the lead, showing them the advert and where it fails to meet basic standards, and "take the oxygen out of such leads".