Direct Line Car Insurance Review: These Features Really Stand Out

Direct Line Car Insurance Review: These Features Really Stand Out

5 star defaqto cover, solid overall customer reviews and competitive prices make Direct Line a top car insurance company in the UK.

Good for

  • No admin fees for mid-term changes
  • No cancellation fee during 14-day cooling off period
  • Beneficial courtesy car rules
  • Fair Claim Commitment means NCD is safe when you claim for getting hit when parked, etc.

Bad for

  • A high rate of formal FOS customer complaints
  • Lower coverage on car keys

Editor's Rating

4.5/5.0

The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.

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

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.

Ratings
Trustpilot4.1 out of 5
reviews.co.uk customer service rating2.7 out of 5
FOS Complaint Ratio2.39
Defaqto5 star

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 IncludesDoes Direct Line Deliver?Direct Line Comprehensive Coverage
"Must Have" Features
WindscreenFull repair or replacement
thumbs up
Included
Belongings£200+
question mark
Included but amount of coverage varies
Keys£300+
question mark
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 NCD2 times in 3 years (standard or optional extra)
thumbs up add on
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 accidentIncluded
thumbs up
Included
Courtesy car (repairs)Minimum 14 days
thumbs up
Included (up to 14 days)
Repairs guaranteed (if use approved repairer)12-month guarantee
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5 years
"Should Have" Features
New car replacementTheft or damage at least 60% of list price; cars up to 12 months old; first owner
thumbs up
If damage repair will cost more than 60% of the value of the car at the time
Stereo and satellite navMarket value for manufactur fitted
thumbs up
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+
thumbs up
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 helplineStandard
thumbs up
Included
Courtesy car (total loss or theft)Standard or add-on extra
thumbs up
Up to 21 days
Motor legal expensesStandard or add-on extra
thumbs up add on
If you buy the add on
Breakdown coverStandard or add-on extra
thumbs up add on
If you buy the add on
"Could Have" Features
Same cover in EUStandard or add-on extra
thumbs up add on
Up to 90 days, if you pay an extra premium
Child car seat replacement after accident, theft, fireIdeally replaced even if no visible damage
thumbs up
Up to £100 per child seat
Larger/premium courtesy carStandard or add-on extra
thumbs up add on
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 protectionStandard
red x
Not available
Uninsured driver NCD protectionStandard
thumbs up
If you buy the add on
Cancellation feeNo more than £50
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£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.

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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.

chart showing how car insurance quotes depend on age
How Car Insurance Prices Change with Driver Age

Those looking to save money on a Direct Line policy may be able to take advantage of some of the following discounts:

Discount CodeDiscount Amount
Responsible Driver (9+ years NCB)up to 37%
Black Boxup to 20%
Online QuotesSave on calls that cost 5 pence per minute, plus your phone company's access charge
Payment in Fullup to 20%
Multi-Car Discount10% 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 enquiries0345 246 3761
Claims0345 246 8471
Help completing online quotes0345 835 3500
24 Hour Helplines
Accident recovery0800 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.

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