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Guardian to go direct

A NEW player has entered the direct insurance market aiming at low-risk customers. Guardian Direct, which is part of the company that has just changed its name from GRE to Guardian, will sell both motor and household insurance over the telephone, writes Vivien Goldsmith.

The motor insurance is restricted to 21- to 74- year-olds driving vehicles up to class 12, such as a BMW 316. This excludes hot hatches and the sleekest executive cars. Drivers must have at least three years' no-claims bonus.

Ray Pierce, managing director of Guardian Direct, said existing Guardian (GRE) customers would be free to apply, but some would find that they were turned down for cover.

' Between 15 and 20 per cent of motorists buy their insurance direct. We believe this will rise to 30 to 50 per cent by the end of the century. Fewer than 10 per cent of contents or buildings insurance is bought direct. People don't buy on price alone. It is more important on motor insurance, which is a grudge purchase. But household is a more emotional purchase.'

The Guardian Direct premium for a 22-year- old Fiesta 1.4LX driver in Warrington with a pounds 100 excess is pounds 411 for fully comprehensive insurance. Direct Line charges pounds 488, the Insurance Service pounds 737, and Churchill pounds 570.

Guardian Direct plans to speed the settlement of claims by dealing with most details over the telephone, and settling bills directly.

Guardian Direct 0800 2822820