(In)Effective Disclosure


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This Report examines the effectiveness of home contents product disclosure statements and key fact sheets as the short-form disclosure in assisting consumers to select the best policy that suits their needs. The Report  was commissioned by the Financial Rights Legal Centre and resourced by over-collected fire services levies distributed in accordance with a process set up by the Victorian fire services levy monitor.

The experimental research found that despite ideal and simplified conditions up to 42% of participants chose the worst offer, despite being given the time and opportunity to review the disclosure information. When able to choose from three policies, 35% chose the worse policy and only 46% found and selected the best policy. There was no simple and consistent effect of disclosure – while participants were more likely to forego purchasing an insurance policy when they had only access to the PDS the results did not find a clear pattern of understanding where people were provided more or less disclosure information. Purchasing decisions were not affected by the way in which the consumer viewed the disclosure (i.e. computer or smart phone).

Authors: Justin Malbon (Monash University Faculty of Law) and Harmen Oppewal (Department of Marketing, Monash Business School)


About Professor Justin Malbon

Professor Malbon is a professor at the Monash Law School. He is a previous Dean of the Griffith University Law School and Director of the Credit and Consumer Law Research Program. He has formerly held the positions of Principal Assistant Parliamentary Counsel, Queensland Office of Parliamentary Counsel; Assistant Divisional Head (Legislation) Division of Aboriginal and Islander Affairs; Research Manager, Blake Dawson Waldron, Melbourne Office (now Ashurst); and Senior tutor at the Law School, University of Melbourne. He also practiced as a Barrister and Solicitor in South Australia for a number of years.

About Professor Harmen Oppewal

Professor Harmen Oppewal is the Head of the Department of Marketing in the Monash Business School at Monash University. He teaches consumer behaviour and research methods. His research focuses on consumer decision-making behaviour in retail and related services contexts, often using experimental and/or modelling methods. He has conducted numerous studies in marketing and retail, housing and real estate, recreation and tourism, and transportation, many of which were published in premier journals in these disciplines. His projects are either academic or for business and public policy clients. For further details see https://research.monash.edu/en/persons/harmen-oppewal

About Financial Rights

The Financial Rights Legal Centre is a community legal centre that specialises in helping consumers understand and enforce their financial rights, especially low income and otherwise marginalised or vulnerable consumers. We provide free and independent financial counselling, legal advice and representation to individuals about a broad range of financial issues. We operate the Insurance Law Service which provides advice nationally to consumers about insurance claims and debts to insurance companies. Financial Rights also operates the Credit & Debt Hotline, which helps NSW consumers experiencing financial difficulties. Financial Rights took over 25,000 calls for advice or assistance during the 2017/2018 financial year.