Australia’s largest online health directory fined $2.9 million

MAIC notes the recent ACCC action in fining HealthEngine $2.9m due to its misleading conduct concerning the sharing of patient personal information to private health insurance brokers and publishing misleading patient reviews.

MAIC’s Insurance Commissioner, Neil Singleton, believes the ACCC investigation serves as an important reminder to entities of the need to protect people’s personal information. MAIC is working hard implementing Queensland CTP scheme reforms to prevent car crash scammers and will investigate and prosecute cases where breaches are found. Several investigations are in fact already underway and prosecutions will follow if deemed appropriate.

“It’s alarming that the personal details of 200 HealthEngine app users were allegedly passed on each month to third-party legal firms without the patients’ express permission. This breach resulted in people around the country being contacted by law firms encouraging them to pursue personal or workplace injury claims.

“I applaud the investigative work of the ACCC to hold one of the country’s largest health lead generation services accountable for their actions.

“As a result of our reforms, it is now illegal for car crash scammers to contact a person under the pretext of pretending to help Queenslanders gain injury compensation from car crashes and then selling their personal information to third parties,” Mr Singleton said.

Prior to the car crash scammer legislation being introduced, it was reported more than 1.5 million Queenslanders had been targeted by relentless car crash scamming phone calls, including vulnerable Queenslanders who were particularly susceptible to the aggressive scam tactics.

“Preserving the integrity of Queensland’s CTP insurance scheme and protecting Queenslanders from aggressive phone calls and privacy breaches is at the heart of our legislation that has resulted in fewer complaints of car crash scams.

“The fall in numbers of complaints is pleasing, but our team remains committed to stopping this predatory practice.” Mr Singleton said.

Queenslanders can help MAIC prevent insurance fraud by hanging up and reporting car crash scammers at maic.qld.gov.au/hangup.

Last modified 22 September 2020

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