Tencent’s insurance platform WeSure slapped with fine for misleading marketing

Iris Deng
·3-min read

Chinese regulators have slapped Tencent WeSure Insurance with a 120,000 yuan (US$17,293) fine for running a misleading marketing campaign, amid a surge in online health care coverage in the country because of the coronavirus pandemic.

WeSure, the online insurance subsidiary of internet giant Tencent Holdings, tried to boost demand for its insurance products by claiming that only a limited number would be available to consumers, according to a notice posted online by the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission’s Shenzhen office on Monday.

It said WeSure had replaced the “enrol” button with one marked “collect” on a mobile site for hospitalisation insurance applications. Tencent’s online insurance platform also failed to provide guidance to customers about truthful disclosure of health conditions, according to the notice.

Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.

The regulator said the fine imposed was based on articles in China’s insurance law, which prohibited deceitful behaviour towards insurance applicants.

WeSure said it had rectified the issues raised by the industry regulator in November last year, adding that the company would continue to step up quality control on its platform, according to a company statement.

Shenzhen-based parent Tencent did not comment.

The regulator’s disciplinary move shows the government’s increased effort to manage China’s insurance industry, which has blossomed from a single state-controlled insurer into a market of 90 life insurers and 82 general insurers. It also shows that Beijing is determined to regulate the world’s biggest internet market with a strong hand, as it continues to grow.

Health care coverage across China is expected to increase significantly amid consumers’ greater awareness of medical risks because of the Covid-19 crisis.

Technology turbocharges China’s access to health insurance amid coronavirus pandemic

Launched in 2017, WeSure works with various Chinese insurers to enable consumers to buy insurance products online via Tencent’s social media networks. WeChat and QQ have 1.2 billion and 650 million monthly active users, respectively. WeSure serves more than 170 million users and paid out 1.1 billion yuan in compensation as of April, according to the company.

China has been at the forefront of insurance technology solutions, thanks to flexible regulations that allow insurers to partner with technology companies.

The growth of online insurance has outpaced the industry in general. Total online insurance premiums in China have increased by nearly twentyfold over five years, from 11.1 billion yuan in 2013 to 183.5 billion yuan in 2017, accounting giant KPMG said in a 2019 report.

China is slated to become the world’s biggest insurance market by 2032 with premiums hitting US$2.4 trillion, surpassing the United States, according to Zurich-based reinsurance company Swiss Re Institute in 2019.

More from South China Morning Post:

This article Tencent’s insurance platform WeSure slapped with fine for misleading marketing first appeared on South China Morning Post

For the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.