Callers found the lines engaged for long periods. Telesure's chief executive, Simon Ward, admitted it had been surprised by the response. He arranged with BT to have extra lines installed.
Telesure aims to cut the cost of cover by using streamlined computer systems. Its electronic data interchange (EDI) system is an advanced form of the technology used by direct sales insurers such as Direct Line, but can shop around the market for good deals.
Telesure will choose policies from a panel of 16 insurers and Lloyd's syndicates, communicating with them by computer and taking on some of the administration normally done by the insurer. Cost savings will be passed on through cheaper premiums, although Telesure gets commission on each policy.
Mr Ward estimated that the company's best quote will be the cheapest available in more than 50 per cent of cases, for any combination of car, driver and postal code.
'As we switch over to full EDI, our quotes will drop by as much as a further 15 to 20 per cent,' he said.
Telesure has been set up by Mr Ward and other members of the management, who between them own just over half of the company. The other shareholder, with a 49 per cent stake, is Rose Thomson Young, a managing agent at Lloyd's specialising in motor insurance.
Telesure believes its service will be a step ahead of companies like Direct Line, Churchill Insurance and The Insurance Service. These all have streamlined telephone sales systems but they are insurers in their own right, whereas Telesure is selecting quotes from across the market.
Mr Ward said the company would offer competitive rates to higher-risk policyholders, who are generally avoided by the direct sales insurers.
He believes the EDI technology gives it an edge over other telephone-quote intermediaries, such as the Automobile Association. However, the AA claimed this week that it was introducing computer systems that would match Telesure's and help it to reduce premiums.
Telesure's panel of insurers includes Norwich Union, Eagle Star and East West, where Mr Ward was managing director between 1987 and 1991.
The company quotes an annual premium of pounds 373 for comprehensive cover for a 45-year- old man, driving a new Metro Rio, assuming he lives in north- east London and has maximum no-claims discount.
Quotations are available on 081-665 9988.
Lloyds Bank is extending its freephone dial-a-quote service for buildings insurance. From 5 July, the telephone lines will be open from 9am to 8pm, instead of to 5pm only. The service is available on 0800 565616.Reuse content