New rules published by the Financial Services Board (FSB) recently came into effect, requiring insurance companies to allow users to opt out of marketing SMSs at no cost.
The rules are part of a number of changes to the FSB’s Policyholder Protection Rules (PPRs), which took effect from 1 July 2018.
According to the revised rules, recipients of insurance advertising via a call, SMS, or voice messages must be able to opt out of future direct marketing from the company in question.
Additionally, no insurer may charge recipients any fee for opting out of the advertising via SMS.
The PPRs are not prescriptive as to which entity must carry the cost of an opt-out SMS, but they prohibit the service provider or insurer from charging it to policyholders.
Rule 10 of the revised PPRs state that “the advertisement must allow the policyholder the opportunity to demand that the insurer or other person does not publish any further advertisements to the policyholder through any of the listed medium”.
“The insurer may not charge a policyholder a fee or allow a service provider to charge a policyholder any fee for making a demand.”
A MyBroadband reader stated they received a marketing SMS from Discovery in July 2018, however, which allowed them to opt out via SMS – but charged an SMS network fee when sending the opt-out message.
The message advertised Discovery’s life insurance products and invited users to reply with an SMS for a quote, or to prevent further direct marketing SMSs.
The SMS received by the user is below.
Let Discovery Life take care of your loved ones when you’re unable to, with life cover from only R350 pm. Reply Yes for a quote. No to opt out. T&Cs apply. BLDS
As requiring users to pay a service provider fee for opting out of SMS marketing from insurers is not permitted in the new FSB rules, MyBroadband contacted Discovery to determine what took place in the matter above.
Discover said it was investigating the issue, but was unable to provide feedback by the time of publication.