JEFF PRESTRIDGE: DeadHappy life insurance advert is just plain repulsive

Persuading people to buy life insurance is not easy. When young, we believe we’re invincible and have no need. Only when we purchase a family home and take on a mortgage is it seriously considered – and even then, many eschew it.

This may explain why some companies are using shock tactics to get people to consider cover, which pays out a tax-free lump sum in the event of death. In isolated cases, the tactics are more sickening than shocking.

The latest advert from DeadHappy, an online seller of life insurance underwritten by Cheshire-based Shepherds Friendly Society, is as distasteful as they come.

Sick: The DeadHappy Facebook advert featuring Harold Shipman

Appearing on Facebook, it contains a picture of serial murderer Dr Harold Shipman with an accompanying strapline saying: ‘Life insurance. Because you never know who your doctor might be.’

For those who have forgotten Shipman – or missed the 2002 ITV drama Harold Shipman: Doctor Death, starring James Bolam – he was convicted in January 2000 of murdering 15 elderly patients in his care. He is also suspected of being responsible for a further 250 deaths. He committed suicide in 2004 while serving a life sentence at Wakefield Prison in Yorkshire.

DeadHappy likes to push the boundaries. Its catchline is ‘life insurance to die for’ while previous adverts have included a picture of a pigeon pooping alongside the words: ‘We think life insurance is s#*! So we redesigned it.’

But the Shipman advert is a step too far. Certainly, financial protection advisers think so.

They have been laying into DeadHappy via online financial publication FTAdviser – stating the advert is disrespectful to the families of those murdered by Shipman. One relative of a victim took to social media to say to DeadHappy: ‘Your latest advert utilising his image is despicable and unacceptable.’ The advert is also defamatory of the medical profession.

Shepherds Friendly Society isn’t impressed either. It told me: ‘We have expressed our view to DeadHappy that the advert distributed on social media featuring Harold Shipman was distasteful and inappropriate.

‘We are committed to our values and this does not align with them. We asked DeadHappy to remove the advert immediately and are currently investigating this matter further.’ On Wednesday, I asked Alan Knott, founder of DeadHappy, whether the advert would be withdrawn – he avoided the question.

But he did say: ‘We are aware of the provocative (and to some the very shocking) nature of our brand. But being provocative is different to being offensive and it is of course never our intention to offend or upset people.

‘It is our intention to make people stop and think.’

On Friday, Knott softened his stance and admitted that the Shipman advert was out of order. He said: ‘We have made a mistake. We will now go away and immediately review all of our current and future marketing campaigns.’

Some people have already reported the advert to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), an organisation that knows DeadHappy quite well. In 2019, it banned its advert of a man leaning his head against a wall with the strapline (again): ‘Life insurance to die for.’

The ASA concluded the advert trivialised suicide.

If you want to complain about the Shipman advert, contact

The charities that deserve a ringing endorsement

On the ropes: Bell-ringer Tim Lowe says charities need more financial support

On the ropes: Bell-ringer Tim Lowe says charities need more financial support

The bell-ringers of St Thomas’ Church in Mellor, Lancashire, are a spirited bunch. Over the years, they’ve raised a lot of money for charities – big ones such as Cancer Research UK and Prostate Cancer UK – as well as local charities such as St Ann’s Hospice in Cheadle.

In seven days’ time, the five-strong team of campanologists will celebrate the feast of St Agatha (patron saint of bell founders and breast cancer patients) by encouraging locals to climb up to the belfry and ring Old Paddy, a three-quarter ton bell.

For a donation small or large, locals will also get a taste of bell-ringers’ soup, which includes a drop of whisky.

Those who fancy a try at bell-ringing can go along from 11.30am. Tim Lowe, part of the bell-ringing team, initially contacted me about the rising cost of his home cover, but was also keen to talk about the fact that many cancer charities are in desperate need of financial support.

So, if you can’t get up to Mellor, consider donating to the charities directly – just mention ‘Festivals of Bells’ – and if you’re a taxpayer remember to boost your donation with Gift Aid.

Tim says they have great bell-ringing plans for Coronation Day (May 6). He has also persuaded me to pay them a visit at some stage and ring away.

That’s another item almost ticked off my bucket list.

NS&I listens and lifts its rate AGAIN

First, the good news. Government-backed savings giant NS&I has listened to the readers of this column (again) – and for a second time in as many months pushed up the prize rate on Premium Bonds.

The bad news? Well, the increase is not as generous as it should be.

The effective annual interest rate is rising next month from three to 3.15 per cent – below the 3.5 per cent we collectively called for.

Boost: Government-backed savings giant NS&I has listened to the readers of this column (again)

Boost: Government-backed savings giant NS&I has listened to the readers of this column (again)

But as my dear mother Helen would say when I got a second-hand Action Man for Christmas – rather than a brand spanking new one – beggars can’t be choosers.

The higher prize rate will be in situ when the February draw takes place on Wednesday.

It will mean more winners in all prize categories bar £1 million (two winners per month) and £25. Although the Bank base rate should jump a day later from 3.5 per cent to 4 per cent – making some best-buy savings accounts relatively more attractive – I would stick with your Premium Bonds.

They provide a bit of fun in a world where fun is in short supply.

As NS&I chief executive Ian Ackerley said a few days ago, the prize rate is at its highest level in more than 14 years when, between May and November 2008, it stood at 3.4 per cent.

For those with Premium Bonds in their portfolio, good luck for Wednesday. I trust you get a message from NS&I stating you are a winner (I’m keeping my fingers crossed).    

Bumper win

Last week, I invited readers to let me know if they had ever won more than nine Premium Bond prizes in a single month. This followed a challenge from Norwich-based Paul Parsons who revealed he and his wife Patricia had once won nine prizes between them.

A number of you came forward (thank you) to say you had trumped the Parsons, but the ‘winners’ were Neil and Helen Hyde, from Worthing in West Sussex.

Neil, a 50-year-old estate agent, and Helen, a part-time school assistant, scooped 13 prizes last September, totalling £425.

Conversely, Jenny Norman, from near Ipswich in Suffolk, hasn’t won a penny for three months – despite having the maximum holding of £50,000.

Husband Ray, a 75-year-old antiques dealer, has promised to let me know if Jenny’s fortunes change for the better on Wednesday.