Direct Line pitch threat to agency

Royal Bank of Scotland-owned Direct Line is reviewing its £1.8m life assurance account, held by Mortimer Whittaker O’Sullivan, in a move that puts the future of the agency in doubt. The agency’s other major client, AOL, put its £22.9m advertising account up for pitch last month.

The Direct Line review is being led by the AAR. It is understood that the review of the life assurance business could presage the loss of the entire £8.6m Direct Line account, which also includes motor insurance.

Direct Line group retail marketing director Jim Wallace is overseeing the review and a shortlist of four agencies has been drawn up.

It is believed that the review has been called following very disappointing sales of Direct Line’s life assurance products. Direct Line is the country’s largest private motor insurer and one of the biggest home insurance providers, but sales in other areas such as life, pet and travel insurance lag behind.

According to the Association of British Insurers, the average household spends £855 a year on life assurance.

Mortimer Whittaker O’Sullivan created direct-response ads and inserts for Direct Line’s life assurance and related critical illness insurance products, which ran in the national press last autumn.

Last week, Royal Bank of Scotland announced it was buying Churchill, Direct Line’s arch-rival.

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