Three hundred aggregators started paying attention on June 4th 2007. The survivors of the broker battle called the war Judgement Day. They lived only to a face a new nightmare, the war against the direct insurers.
On the day in question, Direct Line began an above-the-line advertising campaign specifically set up to slam price comparison websites. In a bold move, Direct Line (who refuse to appear on price comparison or aggregator websites) decided to go on the attack. Not a great surprise considering how the brand launched into the personal insurance market.
Direct Line have cast doubt on the independence and transparency of insurance comparison sites by saying:
…price comparison sites are middlemen…
…additional benefits are only available direct…
Confused called it:.
“an act of desperation”
“Direct Lineâ€™s claims simply donâ€™t stand up to scrutiny”
“…Direct Line doesnâ€™t even make the top ten”
Not surprises that these two brands have come head to head – RBS versus Admiral. However, in one corner of the RBS group we have Direct Line attacking price comparison whilst on the other side of the family we have Tesco planning to build their own aggregation tool.
Is this right for the industry, are we going to see fatalities? Is this right for the customer? Surely, they’ll be left confused (excuse the pun) by all of this. Some mistakenly thought that the price comparison sites actually compared the whole insurance market. Others will believe every word coming from Direct Line’s dirty little mouths.
Aggregators have started appearing almost every week in the last few months – eager to get on to the Billion valuations bandwagon. We at Insiders View believe there is a place for aggregators in the market. However, clarity and independence is vital to provide the best service for customers. They, at the moment, are likely to be confused by the intricacies of parent companies such as Confused (Admiral owned) or CompareTheMarket (Budget owned). Recent advertising will only add to this confusion.
The waters are only going to get muddier. Tesco (RBS), Norwich Union (Aviva) and Saga have all been linked with moves into the comparison sector. We’re sure there are other debating it. Surely they’ll make customers aware of their affiliations …will they ****! And what if an insurance giant buys their way into the insurance comparison market and takes over an established brand? Are they going to be clear with the comparison customers that the shop is under new ownership and the products that are actually best for them are on the top shelf, just out of sight?
So, who’s going to be our knight in shining armour? Who’s going to stand up against these insurance giants and put a stop to this marketing, image manipulation and spin? If it’s going to be an insurance company, they’d better make themselves nothing less than 110% transparent.
Now’s the time for ill informed and persuadable journalists to be put in their place …what does the insurance sector think about this move? Let’s hear it direct from the insurance world – cut out the middle man journos!!!