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LEAD: FSA asks all insurers to check sales pamphlets.

TOKYO, March 17 Kyodo

(EDS: UPDATING WITH MORE INFO)

The Financial Services Agency on Friday called on all 86 life and nonlife insurance companies operating in Japan to check their sales materials following recent revelations of misleading pamphlets at some nonlife insurance companies.

The financial watchdog asked 38 life insurers and 48 nonlife insurers to report their inspection results within a month, agency officials said.

Although the request is not based on the Insurance Business Law, the FSA decided to ask for a blanket inspection as it suspects problematic sales practices may be common, the officials said.

Earlier in the day, Financial Services Minister Kaoru Yosano indicated at a news conference that this type of sales practice is widely seen in the insurance industry.

Recently, four nonlife insurers -- Sompo Japan Insurance Inc., Aioi Insurance Co., Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co. and Kyoei Fire & Marine Insurance Co. -- announced that their sales materials such as pamphlets used in the later 1980s and early 1990s caused some people who bought their savings-type policies to believe they would get higher returns than were available.

The FSA asked the insurers to check if their pamphlets appropriately explain the risk of receiving lower returns than the initial projection, the officials said.

The insurers are also required to check if they conducted proper legal screening in compiling their sales pamphlets, the officials said.

Meanwhile, the FSA request drew a different response from the life and nonlife insurance industries.

The action prompted nonlife insurers to scramble to look over their pamphlets issued in the past, but some in the life insurance industry said life insurers seem not to have made mistakes similar to nonlife counterparts as they are more used to handling long-term policies.

The chairman of the Life Insurance Association of Japan, Shinichi Yokoyama, said at a news conference the same day, ''Since life insurers have handled savings-type products for some time, it's hard to imagine that notices about risks were omitted (in their sales pamphlets).''

The FSA took punitive measures against Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co. and a number of nonlife insurance companies last fall following revelations of failures to pay insurance benefits.
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Date:Mar 20, 2006
Words:356
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