The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld complaints against ASDA Financial Services about a television advert for life assurance and instructed that it should not be broadcast again in its current form.
A TV ad featured a woman talking about ASDA Over 50's Life Cover. She said, "It costs from £5 a month. That's less than 17p a day. You can't buy this type of cover for less anywhere else". She also said, "... and because it's ASDA I can always make sure that I'd never pay more for cover than it'll pay out. So I'll never be out of pocket". On-screen text stated, "Capped premiums from £14.59. Unless you cap your premiums you must keep paying for life, and may pay more than you get out. If you stop paying early cover stops and you won't get anything back".
Three complainants challenged whether the ad misleadingly implied that, based on the £5 monthly premium, customers would never pay in more than the policy paid out, whereas on-screen text stated that capped premiums were actually £14.59.
ASDA said the ad clearly referenced all of the product characteristics, including the £5 'from' price at which the insurance premiums were available, the capped premium prices, the age restrictions and a statement that if the premium payments stopped, there would be no payout. They also said the on-screen text made it clear that unless customers paid the capped price of £14.59, any payments would have to continue for life in order to maintain cover and that under those circumstances, customers may end up paying more in than it would pay out.
They stated that the minimum £5 'from' price was clearly distinguished from the capped premium and that viewers would easily differentiate what conditions applied to the two types of premium payment. They also said that in reference to the claim ".... and, because it's ASDA, I can always make sure that I'd never pay more for cover than it'll pay out", the emphasis was on the word "can", which clearly indicated that this was a possibility rather than a guarantee and that consumers had the choice of whether or not to take up the £14.59 capped payments and take advantage of this benefit.
The ASA understood that ASDA life insurance premiums had various premium payment options available to consumers and that any payments less than the capped minimum could result in consumers paying out more money that they eventually got back. It noted the on-screen text detailed the minimum capped payment and stated that unless payments were capped, consumers may end up paying in more than was eventually paid out. However, although the on-screen text appeared before and during the voice-over statement: "... I can always make sure that I'd never pay more for cover than it'll pay out", ASA considered that most consumers would interpret the voice-over claim in context with the previous reference to the minimum £5 payment because it was presented as a continuous monologue. ASA considered that the claim: "... and because it's ASDA I can always make sure that I'd never pay more for cover than it'll pay out" would be interpreted by most viewers as a statement that the woman was assured of this position because the insurance was offered by ASDA, and not because this was a feature of one of the payment options. ASA considered that although the relevant information did appear in the on-screen text, the context of that text contradicted the implication given in the rest of the ad and that it was not clear that the statement: " ... and because its ASDA I can always make sure that I'd never pay more for cover that it'll pay out" only applied to capped premiums. ASA concluded that the ad was misleading.
Life insurance: News update: 10 November 2010