NEWS: Did you know that Churchill is a Direct Line brand offering cheaper car insurance?
You're probably familiar with Direct Line from their radio and TV ads—but how do their features, prices and customer service really compare to other big companies? Read our review to find out what sets Direct Line apart.
In This Review
- Direct Line Car Insurance: Overall Review
- Direct Line Car Insurance Customer Reviews and Ratings
- Policy and Coverage Options
- Cost Comparison and Discounts
Direct Line Car Insurance Overall Review
If you want insurance from a top car insurer, Direct Line can be a solid option—it's the second largest auto insurance company in the UK behind Admiral. Is it just their catchy ads that helped Direct Line become a top insurer, or do their customer service and policy features compare favourably to the competition?
There are many good features on a Direct Line comprehensive car insurance policy, such as windscreen cover, a courtesy car after an insured event that you claim for (e.g, damage, theft, write off), recovery of your car and hotel & transportation after an accident if your car is not roadworthy, a long 5-year guarantee on approved repairs, etc. Overall, Direct Line offers good coverage and is rated 5 star by defaqto; you can read more about what important features are covered—or not—in our section on policy features.
Customers rate Direct Line with a high customer service score on average, but take a look at common customer complaints and the FOS complaint data for Direct Line before you sign up to understand how customers are sometimes underserved.
Direct Line also offers some other interesting features not commonly available elsewhere such as £10 a day until the job is done if their approved repairers can't fix your damaged car in seven days, up to £70.
Direct Line Car Insurance Customer Service Reviews and Ratings
Despite a strong customer service score for Trustpilot, Direct Line has the worst complaints rate with the Financial Ombudsman Service out of the top ten biggest car insurance companies in the UK. We scoured through Direct Line ratings to find out the most common problems—here's what we found.
Common customer complaints on Reviews.co.uk: Existing Direct Line customers have rated the company with an average of just 2.7 out of 5 stars on reviews.co.uk—but the small sample size of around 40 customers may be misleading. What is the most common complaint? We noticed many issues related to premiums going up at renewal and also with work carried out by their approved repairers, such as lower-quality tyres being fitted or mis-matched bumpers being fitted.
Common customer complaints on Trustpilot: Direct Line is rated very highly by customers, achieving 4.1 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot, which is quite high for an insurance company. That said, while over 50% of customers gave Direct Line 5 stars, one third awarded the company with just 1 star, the lowest possible mark. These negative reviews covered a wide range of complaints, but we did notice a number that related to difficulty handling claims where the customer thought the other driver was at fault and a few problems with policies being canceled for various reasons like NCD proof not being received and processed in time.
We also looked at formal 2018 complaint data with the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) for Direct Line and found they received 3,097 general insurance complaints, putting its complaints to underwritten premium ratio at 2.39, which is the worst of the largest ten car insurance companies.
|Trustpilot||4.1 out of 5|
|reviews.co.uk customer service rating||2.7 out of 5|
|FOS Complaint Ratio||2.39|
Direct Line Car Insurance Policies and Features
We've read a lot of Policy Wordings and Direct Line policies stand out for offering a number of extras that give a distinct advantage to the customer. As you can see below, Direct Line offers a solid set of features to car owners, but the cover for keys is less than some other brands provide—loss and accidental damage of keys are not covered, and theft is only covered if you can convince Direct Line that the thief knows the identity or location of your car. (Those looking for more comprehensive key cover may want to consider LV= Car Insurance.)
|How Good is Direct Line Car Insurance?||A Good Policy Includes||Does Direct Line Deliver?||Direct Line Comprehensive Coverage|
|"Must Have" Features|
|Windscreen||Full repair or replacement||Included|
|Belongings||£200+||Included but amount of coverage varies|
|Keys||£300+||Covered for theft if the identity or location of your car is known to whomever has the keys, but accidental damage and loss are not covered.|
|Protected NCD||2 times in 3 years (standard or optional extra)||If you buy the add on and have at least 4 years NCD with no more than one claim in past 3 years for all drivers combined|
|Car recovery after accident||Included||Included|
|Courtesy car (repairs)||Minimum 14 days||Included (up to 14 days)|
|Repairs guaranteed (if use approved repairer)||12-month guarantee||5 years|
|"Should Have" Features|
|New car replacement||Theft or damage at least 60% of list price; cars up to 12 months old; first owner||If damage repair will cost more than 60% of the value of the car at the time|
|Stereo and satellite nav||Market value for manufactur fitted||Unlimited cover for equipment part of original car spec, up to limit on your schedule if removable AND in a glove compartment or locked boot|
|Alternative transport & Hotel after accident||£250+||They will book and pay for a taxi to take you and your passengers to one destination; one night in a hotel if necessary up to £150 for driver (£250 for everyone in the car)|
|24-hour emergency helpline||Standard||Included|
|Courtesy car (total loss or theft)||Standard or add-on extra||Up to 21 days|
|Motor legal expenses||Standard or add-on extra||If you buy the add on|
|Breakdown cover||Standard or add-on extra||If you buy the add on|
|"Could Have" Features|
|Same cover in EU||Standard or add-on extra||Up to 90 days, if you pay an extra premium|
|Child car seat replacement after accident, theft, fire||Ideally replaced even if no visible damage||Up to £100 per child seat|
|Larger/premium courtesy car||Standard or add-on extra||If you buy the "Guaranteed Hire Car Plus" add on (while car being repaired if use their Approved Repairer; up to 21 days if you use your own repairer)|
|No fault NCD protection||Standard||Not available|
|Uninsured driver NCD protection||Standard||If you buy the add on|
|Cancellation fee||No more than £50||£48.16 after cooling off period; no extra fee during 14-day cooling off period and no fee for mid-term admin changes|
Fair Claim Commitment
With Direct Line you won’t lose your No Claim Discount if you have a claim that wasn't your fault—but you still may need to pay an excess. Here's when your NCD won't be affected:
- If damage is caused by potholes or poor road maintenance
- If damage is caused by fire
- If your car is stolen or something is stolen from your car
- If your car is hit whilst parked
- If damage is caused by flood
- If your car hits or is hit by a wild or domestic animal
- If your car is hit by an object or debris (excluding vehicles).
What is DrivePlus?
DrivePlus is Direct Line's telematics car insurance offering. It works by fitting the DrivePlus plug-in to the on-board diagnostics socket (OBD) in your car. Drivers can then download their app to keep track of all journeys and driving scores. Safe driving may translate into a discount at renewal.
Direct Line Car Insurance Quote Comparison
Prices for car insurance can vary significantly depending on factors like your age, the car you drive, where you live and your driving record. Besides getting a quote directly from Direct Line, it's also useful to check prices elsewhere such as a comparison site to get a broad picture of prices for your profile.
Cheap Car Insurance in Your Area
Quickly compare up to 100 UK insurance providers.
To learn more about typical prices you can read our article about the average cost of car insurance in the UK. For example, the chart below shows average car insurance costs for a sample driver of a Ford Fiesta from dozens of cheap car insurance brands in the UK.
Those looking to save money on a Direct Line policy may be able to take advantage of some of the following discounts:
|Discount Code||Discount Amount|
|Responsible Driver (9+ years NCB)||up to 37%|
|Black Box||up to 20%|
|Online Quotes||Save on calls that cost 5 pence per minute, plus your phone company's access charge|
|Payment in Full||up to 20%|
|Multi-Car Discount||10% of customers saved £248|
Direct Line Cancellation Fees
Direct Line administration fees are lower than average. Customers who cancel their policy after the 14-day cooling off period will pay a £48.16 cancellation fee—but there's no cancellation fee during the cooling off period (you just pay for days you had cover). Direct Line also doesn't charge for mid-term changes like updating your address although you may owe an added premium if your risk profile changes as a result, which is common in the industry. Most UK car insurance brands charge for mid-term changes and many even charge for cancelling during the cooling off period, so Direct Line fees are quite attractive.
|Direct Line Cancellation Charges|
|Cancellation (during 14-day cooling off period)||£0|
|Cancellation (after 14-day cooling off period)||£48.16|
|Mid-term admin changes||£0|
Important Direct Line Insurance Phone Numbers
Online access to your account and 24-hour availability are key factors for many people these days. While customer service is only open during typical business hours (Weekdays 8am-9pm, Saturday 9am-5pm, Sunday 10am-5pm), the emergency helpline is open 24 hours a day if you have an accident and need assistance. There's also an online webchat feature which is open extended hours, on Mon - Fri 8am - 11pm, Saturday 9am - 9pm and Sunday 10am - 9pm. Finally, customers can access their account and make changes through the customer portal.
|Direct Line Insurance Contact Numbers|
|New quotes or general enquiries||0345 246 3761|
|Claims||0345 246 8471|
|Help completing online quotes||0345 835 3500|
|24 Hour Helplines|
|Accident recovery||0800 269 015|
Direct Line Car Insurance Compared to Other Car Insurance Brands
To better understand the value of Bell Car Insurance you need to see it relative to other available options. We’ve compared this option to other car cover so you can decide which will create more value for you given your individual needs.
Direct Line vs Churchill
Lower-cost Churchill is actually a Direct Line brand, so customers benefit from the same customer service and underwriter behind the brand. Churchill not only stands out for competitive prices, but for providing a good set of comprehensive features such as a courtesy car for approved-repairer repairs, windscreen cover and car recovery after an accident—not surprisingly they've been awarded a 5 star defaqto rating. Customer service is open 7 days a week and there's a live chat feature, if you have questions about your policy or a claim. Relatively good customer ratings are reported, although you may want to see our review to see a summary of some common complaints.
Quick Takeaway: If you want Direct Line to underwrite your policy you may get a lower price from their Churchill brand, which is available from some price comparison websites. The features are less robust on a Churchill policy however—for instance you get less coverage for hotel & transport after an accident that leaves you stranded and you'd need to pay extra to get extended courtesy car coverage (in case your car is stolen or written off).
Direct Line vs LV
LV= is a top insurance company that offers a few interesting features on their car insurance. For example, customers are covered for misfuelling their car (putting diesel in a petrol or vice versa), which includes the costs to drain and flush your fuel tank, as well as damage to the car's engine. Customer reviews are quite impressive, with LV achieving a remarkable 4.7 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot.
Quick Takeaway: LV and Churchchill are both popular brands, but those who are especially price conscious might find Churchill a more suitable option.