General insurance advertising is subject to statutory control by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 and the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Financial Promotion) Order 2005. General insurance includes household, motor (including car breakdown cover), travel, pet, payment protection, private medical insurance, term (life) assurance, critical illness and extended warranties.
The FCA regulates the technical aspects of non-broadcast insurance adverting. However “non-technical” aspects of insurance marcoms (for example, offence, social responsibility, superiority claims, fear and distress and competitor denigration) are likely to fall within the remit of the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code. Typically, those elements have included taste and decency, social responsibility, fear, distress and offence. (Versatile Insurance Professionals Ltd, 22 February 2012).
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) may investigate complaints about the truthfulness of some claims that do not relate to the specific characteristics of the product. It upheld complaints against RAC Motoring Service’s claim “Breakdown cover – whether you’re the driver or a passenger in any vehicle, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year” on the grounds that the RAC policy did not include the driver or passenger of a taxi or private hire vehicle (RAC Motoring Services Ltd, 23 November 2005). Marketers should, of course, hold evidence to support such claims in line with Rule 3.7 of the CAP Code. In 2013, the ASA ruled against a Direct Line ad that highlighted the company’s flood coverage, because it omitted to say that they would not insure houses that had been subject to floods in the past ten years (Direct Line Group Ltd, 10 April 2013).
If they are unsure about the legislation they need to comply with, marketers should consult a solicitor or the FCA. Under FCA guidance, insurance advertisements should be clear, fair and not misleading. Please note however that the FCA does not pre-approve proposed financial marketing communications for authorised firms. Technical guidance is available on specific matters or rule interpretations only, not on the advertisement as a whole. See the FCA’s website, www.fca.org.uk.
Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the ASA. CAP’s AdviceOnline entries provide guidance on interpreting the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing.
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Remember: Not everything is black and white when it comes to Financial Promotions, and many of the rules are open to interpretation. If you are unsure how your activities fit within the rules, please contact us.