EIOPA’s first Consumer Strategy Day took place on 6 December 2011 in Frankfurt. Around 120 participants attended the event. The purpose of the Consumer Strategy Day was to present an update on EIOPA’s work in the field of consumer protection and financial innovation as well as to provide professional stakeholders and consumer protection experts with the opportunity to express their own views on these issues in the form of a dialogue between consumer representatives, industry, supervisors and other stakeholders. The event is part of EIOPA’s general policy of enhancing transparency and maintaining appropriate accountability towards stakeholders.
The Consumer Strategy Day consisted of 3 sessions:
I. Consumer Protection – Fostering protection of policyholders and pension fund beneficiaries
During the session, panellists emphasised the importance of promoting transparency, simplicity and fairness for consumers, including the need for financial education to allow consumers to make the right choice on the wide variety and complexity of insurance products on the market. Reference was also made to the importance of appropriately managing conflicts of interest, including dealing with incentive structures which might lead to product bias.
Participants underlined the fact that there should be effective redress mechanisms in place to deal with complaints and a “duty of care” between consumers and financial services providers could be explored. EIOPA should undertake co-ordinated action to enhance consumer protection by reporting on consumer trends, developing good practices and publishing Guidelines and Recommendations.
II. Tackling new or innovative financial activities – a co-ordinated approach
Participants discussed the role of financial innovation in retail insurance markets. Financial innovation was seen as beneficial to the extent that it serves to meet consumer demands and needs. In addition to the impact on consumers, solvency and macro-prudential aspects also need to be taken into account to assess financial innovation more broadly.
III. Anti-Discrimination and Assessment of Risk
Following the ruling of the European Court of Justice in Test Achats in March this year prohibiting as of 21 December 2012 the use of gender as a risk factor to determine premiums and benefits, the panellists discussed the immediate and further reaching implications on the use of risk factors (including age and disability) in insurance.
The European Commission intends to issue an interpretative communication before year end.