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Direct Line Shakes Up Insurance Market Again

Having revolutionised the UK insurance industry by offering fast, direct and relatively inexpensive cover, Direct Line is trying to do it again -- online.

From its Web site, Direct Line will provide users with access to immediate insurance cover, 24 hours a day throughout the year, using the most powerful security available. Getting insurance for the car or home will take around two minutes, says the company.

"Direct Line's new Web site will irreversibly alter the insurance market in the same way as Direct Line shook up the traditional players 15 years ago," said Ian Chippendale, Direct Line's group chief executive.

"Buying insurance direct is the way the market is moving. By 2003 we expect at least 15 per cent of motor insurance to be bought over the Internet, 70 per cent by phone and only 15 per cent at branches, particularly with increasing demand for 24-hour service."

To use the service, customers will need to complete very few personal details to obtain a quote. Instant cover is available, and, for added efficiency, the Web site integrates with Direct Line's call centres so that customers can talk to telesales operators if necessary.

Ian Chippendale added that as on-line demand grows, all Direct Line's financial products could be sold on the Internet. This would, he said, complete the transition from branch-based financial services to "cost-efficient and accessible direct providers."