Direct Line

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Direct Line Insurance Limited
Direct Line
Formerly called
Rateflame Limited,
Royal Bank of Scotland Group Insurance Company Limited,
Direct Line Insurance Plc
Private Limited Company
Industry Insurance
Founder Martin Long
Peter Wood
Headquarters Churchill Court, Westmoreland Road,, Bromley, Kent
Key people
Paul Geddes,
Roger Cheston,
Jonathan Greenwood,
Helen O'Murchu,
Humphrey Tomlinson
Products Vehicle Insurance, Home insurance, Life insurance, Pet Insurance
Brands Direct Line for Business, Direct Line Flights, Direct Line Holidays,
Number of employees
10,000+
Parent Direct Line Group
Website directline.com

Direct Line Insurance Limited[1] is a United Kingdom insurance company based in Bromley, London. Founded in 1984, as the country's first direct car insurance company, it has since expanded to offer a range of general insurance products. Direct Line is part of the Direct Line Group; policies are underwritten by the parent United Kingdom Insurance Limited.

Company history

Founded in Croydon by Martin Long and Peter Wood with £20 million from the Royal Bank of Scotland, Direct Line sold its first motor insurance policy in 1985. It was the first UK insurance company to underwrite using computers and sell insurance directly by telephone, thus removing the need for a broker and reducing costs. The company was also the first UK insurer to open its office in the evenings and weekends, and the first to offer a 24-hour help line. In 1988 it started to sell home insurance. Direct Line is renowned for having transformed financial services in the UK.[2]

The company grew by advertising in the national press, TV and marketing to RBS customers. It launched a long-standing mascot of a red telephone on wheels in 1990, which rapidly established high levels of recall among consumers.[2] In 2015 the brand worked with Saatchi and Saatchi to relaunch its advertising using Hollywood actor Harvey Keitel as Mr Fixer[3] The company had one million customers after eight years.[4]

The company expanded with a series of new offshoots in the 1990s. In 1995, a Spanish offshoot, Linea Direct, started offering motor insurance in Spain. They expanded into travel insurance in 1996, pet insurance in 1997, and Direct Line Breakdown started offering breakdown insurance in 1998. Their non-general insurance products umbrella Direct Line Financial services launched their first non-insurance product Direct Line Personal Loan in 1993, the following year they started to offer mortgages, in 1995 Direct Line Life started offering life assurance, in 1996 they launched savings accounts and a PEP unit trust, and in 1998 the company started to offer pensions. The company's first website, directline.com, was launched in 1999. The innovations extended into the 2000s with the launch of the UK's first online claims registration and tracking facility for its motor insurance customers in 2001, and Home Response 24 emergency insurance launching in 2003.[5]

Direct Line was bought by RBS Insurance, a subsidiary of RBS Group, in 2003.[5] Royal Bank of Scotland was forced to sell Direct Line as a result of European regulations that prevent companies receiving state aid. Direct Line floated on the London Stock Market in October 2012, with the Direct Line Group becoming the parent company of the Direct Line Insurance Ltd as well as a number of other subsidiaries such as Churchill Insurance. The company also made a number of tough financial decisions in the early 2010s, including abandoning some lines of business, making redundancies, and closing 14 of their 27 UK offices.[6]

Controversy

In January 2012, Direct Line, along with sister company Churchill Insurance, was fined £2.17m by the FSA, after being found guilty of altering complaints files.[7]

Awards

Direct Line has won a number of awards including:

  • The Financial Services Forum Awards 2016: Advertising; Customer Experience; Customer Loyalty and Retention, Judges’ Special Award for Marketing Excellence.[8]
  • YourMoney.com Awards 2016: Direct winners - Best Direct Car Insurance Provider[9]
  • Your Money Awards 2015: Direct winners - Best Direct Car Insurance Provider[10]

References

  1. ^ "DIRECT LINE INSURANCE LIMITED - Overview (free company information from Companies House)". beta.companieshouse.gov.uk. 
  2. ^ a b (1 March 2004)Superbrands case studies: Direct Line Archived 2 October 2017 at the Wayback Machine. Campaign
  3. ^ Kemp, Nicola (1 August 2016). Case Study: how Direct Line fixed the insurance market Archived 9 July 2017 at the Wayback Machine. Campaign Magazine
  4. ^ Finch, Julia (27 June 2003). Cover model - Peter Wood, the founder of Direct Line Archived 11 September 2014 at the Wayback Machine. The Guardian
  5. ^ a b Royal Bank of Scotland - Heritage - Companies - Direct Line Archived 2 October 2017 at the Wayback Machine. RBS.com
  6. ^ Scott, Matt (14 March 2017). Inside a Turnaround: The Direct Line story. Managers.co.uk
  7. ^ Jill Treanor. "Churchill and Direct Line fined £2.1m by FSA". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 13 April 2014. Retrieved 18 January 2012. 
  8. ^ "FSForum Awards for Marketing Effectiveness" (PDF). 
  9. ^ (22 August 2016). YourMoney.com Awards 2016: Direct winners Archived 6 July 2017 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ (17 August 2015). Your Money Awards 2015: Direct winners Archived 2 August 2016 at the Wayback Machine.

External links

  • Official website
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