Direct Line offers instant online insurance

Direct Line, the Royal Bank of Scotland’s telephone insurance arm, will offer motor, home and car breakdown insurance over the Internet from this week. The company says the simple, two-minute procedure for taking out online policies provides cover immediately. Ian Chippendale, group chief executive at Direct Line, expects the Internet to account for at least 15 per cent of motor insurance transactions by 2003, with 70 per cent of the remainder conducted over the phone and 15 per cent through branch-based brokers. Chippendale says Direct Line aims to offer its life insurance, mortgage, individual savings accounts (ISAs), pensions and credit card products over the Net at a later stage. Direct Line’s Website previously only provided information. It has been revamped by Epic and Direct Line’s in-house design team. Advertising for the new site has been handled by Media Vision Integrated. Direct Line’s online operation forms part of a trend towards Internet distribution in the financial services industry. This has largely been confined to basic banking services, but now mortgage brokers and insurers are moving in with their own Internet operations. Rupert Murdoch’s new Internet holding company eVentures plans to create a UK arm of US online mortgage retailer E-Loan later this year, while emfinance, an Internet mortgage broker from online financial services provider The Exchange, will launch later this year. National Savings, the Government-owned savings bank based in the Post Office Counters network, is also working on Internet and interactive television distribution channels.

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