Direct Line comes under fire for claims in TV ad

A Direct Line TV advert has been the subject of a string of complaints by disgruntled consumers who described it as misleading and inaccurate.

The advert showed twin brothers who are involved in similar minor accidents with uninsured drivers.

The brother who is insured with Direct Line, part of RBS Insurance, is fine because "unlike most insurers, (he) kept (his) no claims bonus and didn't have to pay a penny".

His brother, though, loses his no claims bonus and has to pay over £300 in excess despite also having cover with a major insurer.

The 19 complaints logged with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) centre around the fact that all insured drivers can reclaim losses from the Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB) and that many other insurers would not remove a no claims bonus in these circumstances.

A spokesman for Norwich Union said: "There is general market agreement not to penalise a driver in these circumstances by removing their no claims discount. What Direct Line is offering is certainly not unique."

Ruediger Schaefer, head of personal lines at Allianz Cornhill, agreed: "There is a lot of frustration among insurers that Direct Line is advertising on the premise that it is doing something different when what they are offering is fairly standard."

Most of the complaints against Direct Line were not upheld. The ASA said: "We were largely satisfied that the benefit offered by Direct Line was substantially different to that offered to other insured drivers through the MIB."

Norwich Union and Royal & SunAlliance confirmed that their policyholders would still be liable to pay an excess in the above circumstances.

A spokeswoman for Direct Line said: "The ASA found that the uninsured drivers promise is entirely unique to Direct Line and is the first and only promise of its kind to consumers from the insurance industry."