FINANCIAL SERVICES DURING A PANDEMIC - KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
The aim of this communication is to inform financial customers of the safety protocols that should be adhered to by financial institutions when interacting face-to-face with employees and travelling nurses for the purposes of medical underwriting during the COVID-19 advanced level 3 lockdown requirements.
COVID 19 has swept across the globe and many are thinking about their financial future and that of their families more seriously. The way we used to do things versus now has changed dramatically, with the introduction of mandatory face mask wearing, social distancing, sanitising, washing your hands and cleaning surfaces more frequently in order to reduce and avoid the spread of the virus. However, if you are going to engage with financial institutions or need any medical tests for life insurance purposes - There are a few things that you as a financial customer should know when engaging these services amidst COVID-19.
The Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA), the Prudential Authority (PA) and the National Payment System Department of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB), published a Joint Communication which sets out measures to be taken by financial institutions and payment institutions when performing financial services as well as services relating to the national payment system.
With the economy opening in a phased approach, businesses have a greater responsibility to ensure that the working environment is safe for staff and in addition, care must also be taken to protect customers and members of the public who come into contact with financial services workers.
How do I engage with financial institutions, intermediaries, financial advisors and travelling nurses during Covid-19?
• Remote interaction
If you require financial services, you are encouraged to seek these services via remote means. i.e. via the telephone, e-mail or online meetings. Face to face meetings are discouraged. Only in exceptional cases are face to face meetings or physical interactions permitted.
• Appropriate locations for face to face meetings
A meeting can only take place between the employee of the financial institution and the financial customer at premises where appropriate health measures and social distancing can be implemented for example; at the financial institution; the customers place of work or other premises as well as medical facilities which applies to travelling nurses who need to do blood work for customers.
• Financial services at home
If meetings are to be conducted at the customers home, there must be a confirmed appointment; both parties have to fill in a risk questionnaire (which establishes possible risk to both parties and their families. It is only valid for 24 hours); both parties must take a non-contact temperature screen in the presence of each other; both parties need to sanitise and wear face masks; social distancing must be practiced as far as possible whilst completing forms in order to limit the time spent in close proximity to the customer; lastly, a record of the meeting containing that the above protocols have been adhered to is required by the representative of the financial institute.
• Nurses and home visits
A nurse may visit a customer at home for purposes of medical underwriting if there is not alternative. The nurse and the customer will have to follow the guidelines listed in the point above plus follow additional requirements such as; on arrival at the customer’s home, the nurse must wear a mask, face shield and a pair of gloves; the nurse should use two pairs of gloves for the consultation. The first pair should be used for completing forms, and a new pair for the medical examination, which includes drawing blood and taking blood pressure.
Financial institutions are required to have certain safety protocols in place prior to engaging with customers. If you feel uncomfortable at any point you have a right to request that these safety protocols be followed to in order to keep you, your families and those around you safe. In instances where you are unable to engage with financial institutions remotely, do your part to minimize the spread of the virus by wearing a face mask, washing your hands frequently, adhering to social distancing and using sanitiser when you cannot wash your hands.
To read more on the Joint publication issued by the FSCA, PA and SARB to financial and payment institutions click here.
The FSCA expects that all businesses in the financial services industry inform their customers of safety precautions during this pandemic and treat them fairly.
Consumers also have a responsibility to ask the questions and make sure they are treated fairly, especially insisting on these COVID-19 precautionary and safety measures to be adhered to, to keep themselves and their families safe.
Enquiries: Financial Sector Conduct Authority
Sharecall: 0800 203 722 (FSCA)
For more consumer financial education messages visit the FSCA’s consumer website: www.FSCAmymoney.co.za or email: CED.Consumer@fsca.co.za