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Spowart's Comparison Site at War With Direct Line Over Ad Campaign

Jun 11, 2007

By Rosemary Gallagher

PEOPLESCHAMPION.COM, set-up last summer by serial financial guru Jim Spowart, has hit back at claims that comparison sites are confusing for customers and should carry "accuracy warnings".

Direct Line - itself co-founded by Spowart and owned by Royal Bank of Scotland - has criticised comparison sites for not always finding the best deals.

But Ian McAteer, marketing director of, which is majority owned by SMG, is taking legal advice on whether to make a formal complaint about Direct Line's latest television campaign.

McAteer said: "I have a number of issues about whether the campaign meets the Advertising Standards Authority's requirements of being legal, decent, truthful and honest."

He is looking into whether the company's claim it is the only insurer that gives all the benefits of "second-car discounts, no- claims discounts for named drivers and no excess to pay if you're hit by an uninsured driver" is true.

Direct Line has never agreed to have its products on price comparison sites, such as or, and said it never will as it sees them as "middle-men".

Based on research of more than 2,000 people in the UK commissioned from UK Gov, Direct Line is calling for sites to carry accuracy warnings.

It said there is widespread confusion about what these sites offer, with 41 per cent of people expecting them to provide quotes from all major insurers.

Emma Holyer, spokeswoman for Direct Line, said: "Our research shows many believe sites provide an independent, public service designed to ensure consumers get the best deal on their insurance. Unfortunately this is not the case, as these websites are really just on-line middlemen who make money out of commissions on insurance sales, just like a traditional high street broker."

But Spowart, chairman of, said: "You have to ask why Direct Line doesn't want its products compared with others. For example, I found several companies offering better deals for car insurance.

"A comparison site is not a middle-man. What we do is provide the consumer with information - without charging them - and they can then go on to a specific company's website to buy a product if they wish."

(c) 2007 Scotsman, The. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.

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