Hong Kong’s Insurance Authority (IA) has reprimanded and issued a five-month ban to Yam Wai Shu, a former insurance agent of Prudential Hong Kong, having found him guilty of one count of misconduct.
According to a statement from the IA, Yam had violated the Insurance Ordinance (Cap. 41) and the regulator’s Code of Conduct for Licensed Insurance Agents. On January 23, 2020, Yam sent a message to everyone on his social media contacts list, using the outbreak of COVID
-19 to encourage them to leave China’s Hubei Province and go to Hong Kong and buy insurance from him.
The message came at a time when the Hong Kong SAR government was limiting travel from Hubei Province to prevent the spread of COVID
-19. The IA received multiple complaints about the message, thus making it a matter of public concern.
The IA said Yam, who worked as an insurance agent for Prudential from February 24, 2016 and January 26, 2020, violated the insurer’s internal policy on cross-border selling practices, as well as engaged in regulated activity that the IA deemed prejudicial to the public interest. Furthermore, Yam also “failed to exercise a level of care, skill and diligence” required of a person carrying out regulated activity.
In determining Yam’s penalty, the IA took into account the short duration of his misconduct, the remorse he showed and his otherwise clean disciplinary record.
“It is imperative that licensed insurance intermediaries adhere to the ethical business practices required in the Insurance Ordinance and the Code of Conduct when carrying on regulated activities, so as to ensure trust and confidence in the insurance market is maintained and continually reinforced,” the regulator’s statement said. “The IA has no tolerance for unethical business practices and perpetrators of such practices can expect severe disciplinary penalties.”