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Direct Line insurance ad banned for 'misleading' consumers

Direct Line has been hit with an advertising ban from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after the watchdog ruled a radio ad from the insurance company was misleading.

The advert, which promoted Direct Line's Landord service and boiler cover, drew one complaint from a listener who raised concerns that the majority of landlords who owned flats would not qualify for boiler cover because he understood that buildings insurance was usually arranged by the freeholder or managing agent.

UK Insurance, trading as Direct Line, said the definition of a landlord was "an owner of land, buildings or dwellings", and on that basis, under the terms of its landlord product, all landlords would be entitled to purchase buildings insurance and benefit from the boiler cover within the product.

The insurer said the complainant's concern appeared to lie in the distinction between leaseholder and freeholder, and that a freeholder would come under the definition of landlord as they were owners of the building. Leaseholders generally did not own the property so were "unlikely to obtain buildings insurance unless they were held legally responsible for the building by the freeholder".

UK Insurance added that it believed the ad clearly portrayed a landlord as an owner, and as landlords were entitled to purchase buildings insurance, it did not believe the ad was confusing.

However the ASA said that listeners would understand from claims in the ad that boiler cover was included with Direct Line Landlord cover generally, and would not be aware of any exclusions.

The watchdog said in its ruling: "We considered that that impression was contradicted by the voice-over towards the end of the ad, which stated, 'Boiler cover with buildings cover'".

"We considered that the fact the boiler cover was only included for those purchasing buildings cover was significant information that could determine whether a listener decided to enquire further about the product, or applied for cover".

On that basis it concluded the advert was misleading. It must not be broadcast again in its current form.

Natalie Mortimer

Natalie is The Drum's fashion, design, luxury and food & drink reporter.

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