Business / Corporate

Japan Post workers forged papers to sell insurance policies, internal document reveals

Kyodo, JIJI

Some post office workers forged documents or engaged in other unlawful practices in selling the products of Japan Post Insurance Co. in fiscal 2018, according to an internal document revealed Monday.

The revelation adds to the scandal involving the insurance arm of Japan Post Holdings Co., which has admitted to mismanagement in connection with more than 90,000 insurance policies, including cases in which customers were forced to pay premiums for new and old insurance policies after terminating their old contracts.

The document, given to Japan Post Co. employees tasked with the sale of insurance products in April, showed one staff member in a managerial position had forged an insurance contract application form without a customer’s consent out of pressure to meet a sales target.

The case was brought to light after the customer received the insurance policy which the customer had never signed.

The document, which lists examples of “inappropriate” sales practice, also pointed to another postal worker who had told a customer not to report any hospital visits before filing an insurance application.

Another case involved a worker concluding a contract without actually meeting the policyholder. Instead, the staffer only talked to family members, according to the document.

Both Japan Post and Japan Post Insurance have admitted to the three cases of unlawful sales. The practices, in violation of the insurance business law and other legislations, have been reported to the Financial Services Agency.

“It is very regrettable that cases that have betrayed people’s trust have emerged,” Kazumasa Iwata, who chairs the government panel on postal privatization, told a news conference in Tokyo on Monday.

The cases have overshadowed the privatization itself, Iwata said. The country’s dominant postal group was privatized in 2007.

In all three cases, workers admitted to engaging in unlawful practices as they felt enormous pressure to meet sales quotas, a company official said.

Given the evidence showing that sales quotas led to gross mismanagement and unlawful deals, the Japan Post group is planning to scrap such targets for post office workers in fiscal 2019.

Japan Post sells commission products of Japan Post Insurance through its network of about 20,000 post offices nationwide.

It has a new contract target of ¥45 billion in terms of insurance premiums for fiscal 2019. The figure has been allocated to post offices and their workers as sales quotas.

It has not been decided yet whether sales quotas will be assigned in and after fiscal 2020, according to company sources.

The insurance company has already decided to halt sales of its products until the end of August, while a third-party panel is conducting a probe into the matter.

The suspension is expected to continue into September, as it has taken longer than expected to check whether existing insurance contracts are in line with customers’ demands.

Since scrapping sales quotas will likely have significant effects on the business management of the Japan Post Holdings group, some in the group are cautious about scrapping them, the sources said.

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