Direct Line to offer insurance on the Web

Insurance firm Direct Line launched a Web site Wednesday which it promised would deliver online insurance in under two minutes.

The new service will enable customers to buy motor, home and car insurance online. Directline.com will provide customers with 24 hour, 365 days of access to immediate cover on insurance product using a 'quote and buy' process.

Direct Line's chief executive Ian Chippendale believes the service will have a similar impact as telephone selling. "Direct Line's new Web site will irreversibly alter the insurance market in the same way as Direct Line shook up traditional players fifteen years ago." He believes at least 15 per cent of motor insurance will be bought over the Net by 2003.

A spokesman for the Association of British Insurers believes many firms will wait and see how Direct Line and Eagle Star get on with Net services before following suit. "The Internet is one more tool in the distribution armoury," he said.

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