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Aviva “misleading” annuity advert banned

An TV advert by Aviva which claimed the insurer can provide up to 20 per cent higher retirement income for its customers than competitors has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority.

In the advert, actor Paul Whitehouse says Aviva managed to “get him nigh on 20 per cent more income” a point then repeated by a voice over at the end of the advert.

The ASA upheld complaints from four people that the claim was misleading.

The ASA’s assessment says: “We were concerned that, when compared with other open market providers, Aviva were only able to offer 20 per cent more annuity in a small number of cases, which in turn were likely to be realised by only a small number of actual customers.

“Because we considered we had not seen evidence that demonstrated that Aviva could get customers up to 20 per cent more annuity income from other providers, we concluded the claim was misleading.”

Aviva say they are disappointed by the decision and that the advert was based on thorough market research.

Aviva submitted data to the ASA which they claimed showed they offered annuity rates of 20 per cent or more than their competitors in 22 per cent of cases which they said was adequate to justify the claim.

But the ASA said those figures depended on estimates of non-open market annuity rates which Aviva assumed would be less competitive but are not published.

An Aviva spokeswoman says: “Our overwhelming intention was always to draw attention to one of the most significant financial decisions people face – that of choosing an annuity. More than 40 per cent of customers do not use the open market option to convert their hard-earned cash into retirement income.”

“Customers may be losing out on much-needed income because they default to their current provider rather than shopping around.”

The ASA says they have not seen evidence to support Aviva’s assumptions and that they would want to see more robust data to support the claim.

The advert ran over five weeks in May and June.

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Comments

There are 3 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. David Trenner - Intelligent Pensions 22nd December 2010 at 12:22 pm

    I wonder if the ABI were behind this complaint? We all know that Aviva will frequently offer 20% more than the likes of Scottish Widows, Friends Prov, Scottish Life and Clerical – and a lot more than 20% more if the client qualifies for an enhanced annuity.

    We want the public to know this, but the ABI – and it seems the ASA – do not.

  2. Alistair Cunningham, Wingate Financial Planning 22nd December 2010 at 3:40 pm

    I agree with David. Less harm (in fact more good) ie surely done by promoting the value of the open market option, rather than silently leaving inaction and weak internal rates as the default.

  3. Agree with the above fully. Phone companies get away with describing a 500mb data allowance as ‘unlimited’ yet this is considered misleading. Double standards or what – and I disagree with most things insurance companies do!

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