French look at UK phone banking

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The Independent Online
GROUPE GAN, the French insurance and banking concern, is considering a move into UK telephone banking if its new direct motor insurance service, Touchline, which is launched today, meets expectations.

Sandy Dunn, head of Touchline, said that Groupe Gan aimed to have between 2.5 and 3 per cent of the UK direct insurance market in five years. Direct selling aims to lower the cost of insurance through by-passing brokers.

Direct selling of personal insurance such as motor and household risks accounts for about 10 per cent of the pounds 10bn UK insurance market. The proportion of motor insurance is expected to double from 15 per cent, or 2.5 million cars, to 30 per cent or 5 million cars in the next five years.

Mr Dunn said that Touchline was aiming to be competitive across a basket of motor insurance risks, but not necessarily on a risk-by-risk basis.

First Direct, Midland Bank's subsidiary, adopted the techniques of telephone selling to retail banking and recently moved into operating profit.

'We will gradually build up a large customer base at Touchline,' Mr Dunn said. 'I feel sure that we will find ways of extending our services, including banking.'

Direct Line, the cut-price direct sales insurance subsidiary of the Royal Bank of Scotland and market leader, also hopes to begin selling highly competitive deposit accounts and telephone loans. It is launching a pilot scheme next month.

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