A paid-for search result for the term "direct line car insurance claims", seen in October 2017, stated "Call 0800 XXX XXXX - Vehicle Claim Team. direct-line.vehicleclaim.co.uk".
The complainant challenged whether the ad misleadingly implied that the advertiser was Direct Line insurance.
Digital Accident Solutions Ltd t/a Vehicle Claim said that the ad made abundantly clear that the advertiser was Vehicle Claim. It referred to “Vehicle Claim Team” and made clear that the associated website was “www.vehicleclaim.co.uk”. They stated that when a consumer clicked on the URL in the ad text on a mobile device, they were asked whether they wished to call the 0800 number referred to in the ad. It was therefore factually correct to say that the reference in the URL to “direct-line” referred to the fact that the 0800 number which preceded that phrase in the ad was the direct line to the “Vehicle Claim Team”. The reference in the URL was hyphenated as “direct-line”, which they believed differentiated it from the non-hyphenated use of those words by Direct Line car insurance. The phrase was part of the URL and was in accordance with permitted Google search practice. Vehicle Claim stated that the corresponding website page was clearly branded as “Vehicle Claim” and made no reference to Direct Line car insurance. It also included clear, legible and user-friendly information for consumers, such as “Who are We?”. They believed that the possibility for confusion was minimal.
The ASA noted that the ad stated “direct-line.vehicleclaim.co.uk” and had appeared as a non-organic search result for “direct line car insurance claims”. Direct Line was a well-known insurance company, and, in the context of a search for car insurance claims, we considered that the reference to “direct-line” was likely to give consumers the impression that the number listed in the ad would connect them to Direct Line insurance. While we noted that the ad stated “Vehicle Claim Team”, we considered that could be understood as referring to a claims team more generally, rather than to the company trading as “Vehicle Claim”. In addition, while the URL featured the domain name “vehicleclaim.co.uk”, it also included “direct-line” and was likely to give the impression that it was associated with Direct Line car insurance.
We acknowledged that the website linked to from the ad did not mention Direct Line car insurance and provided further information about Vehicle Claim. However, we noted that there was a phone number included in the ad itself and consumers did not need to visit the website in order to make a call regarding an insurance claim.
Taking into account the different elements of the ad in the context in which it appeared, we considered that they presented the entity that consumers would be contacting in an ambiguous manner, and were likely to give consumers the impression that they would be contacting Direct Line car insurance directly. We concluded that the ad was misleading and breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that the consumer needs to make informed decisions in relation to a product. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead the consumer depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the marketer takes to make that information available to the consumer by other means. (Misleading advertising), 3.9 3.9 Marketing communications must state significant limitations and qualifications. Qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims that they qualify. and 3.10 3.10 Qualifications must be presented clearly.
CAP has published a Help Note on Claims that Require Qualification. (Qualification).
The ad must not appear again in the form complained about. We told Digital Accident Solutions Ltd t/a Vehicle Claim to ensure their ads did not state or imply that that they would connect customers directly to Direct Line car insurance, or any other insurance company, if that was not the case.