Churchill censured for misleading ads

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The Independent Online

Churchill Insurance has been publicly censured by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for making a false claim in its home insurance adverts broadcast on national television earlier this year.

The adverts – which featured Churchill's trademark Bulldog – claimed that customers could make home insurance claims without having to fill in any paperwork. However, a customer complained to the ASA when he was recently sent a form to complete after making a claim, accusing the insurer of misleading its customers.

Churchill admitted to the ASA that about 40 per cent of all claims needed to be referred to its claims validation unit, where investigators check the legitimacy of individual claims. About half of those investigated by this unit would then be sent a declaration form or statement to complete.

The insurer admitted to the ASA that its adverts were misleading to some customers, conceding that only about 80 per cent of claims were completed without having to fill in a form.

Churchill had sought pre-approval for its advert from Clearcast – an organisation which checks adverts for any unsuitable content before they are broadcast. When Clearcast asked for confirmation that claimants would not have to fill in forms, Churchill said it was standard policy to deal with claims over the phone. Clearcast has since said it would not have granted clearance to the adverts had it known that only 80 per cent of customers would be able to claim without filling out any paperwork.

The insurer has agreed not to repeat the claim in any future advertising. In a statement, a Churchill spokesman said: "Churchill has not screened the ads since June and has taken actions to ensure the claims do not appear in any future marketing campaigns."