Wood's fresh approach to insurance paid off for both the customers and him


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The Independent Online

When Peter Wood founded Direct Line in 1985 his plan was to create an entirely new kind of insurer. He succeeded.

His success led to him becoming Britain's highest-paid company director – the numbers will shock you.

He got £1.6m in 1991, £6m in 1992, and £18.2m in 1993.

Politicians called these numbers "obscene" – bankers have since made them seem anything but.

While he hasn't had any hits as great as Direct Line since, his reputation, at least within the confines of the insurance industry, is assured.

Mr Wood eventually left Direct Line in 1997 in a parting that was not entirely amicable, according to some.

In 1999 he established Esure, which used the same business model as Direct Line and targeted pretty much the same customer base. The idea was to be administratively slick, pay claims quickly rather than bog each side down in arguments, and embrace new technology.

He can honestly claim to be the man who started Britain's insurance revolution, who tried to make the industry nicer to its customers.

If those customers think he was a success, they might decide to buy shares in the business that is being floated.

However, City analysts, privately anyway, are advocating caution.