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We chose Direct Line Insurance to provide our comprehensive motor insurance purely on the basis of price, in January this year. They quoted us around £200 cheaper than the nearest rival (More Than) could.
When I accepted the policy, in my name with the Other Half as a named driver, I deliberately declined the Guaranteed Hire Car, Direct Line's answer to a courtesy car. It costs an extra £15 premium to have it, and I figured that since neither of us use the car to get to work, in the event of an accident we could manage without it for a couple of weeks. If you can't manage without a car, then I'd recommend that you ask for Guaranteed Hire Car if you aren't offered it straight off and pay the extra £15.
All was going swimmingly until, at the beginning of May, Other Half drove into a parked car just round the corner from our house. He left a note on the victim's car (along with a scrape on the rear door, front door, front bumper and alloy wheel!), and we waited...and waited...for the owner to contact us.
Eventually a bloke came round to introduce himself as the owner and get our insurance details. The following day, Other Half registered the claim with Direct Line - we had damage to our tyre, front bumper and wheel arch. Direct Line were very nice about the whole thing (they didn't even laugh when he admitted the other car had been parked...!) and very efficient. They wrote to us to confirm the registration of the claim, and gave us a single point of contact - our personal claims advisor - in case we had any queries.
Within a couple of days of registering the claim, the repairer contacted us to arrange to pick up our car at a time that would be convenient for us. I arranged to work from home so that they could collect it the following day, however they would have collected it from my work if necessary.
I was told that someone would come round at noon on Thursday 5 June, and at almost exactly 12.00 the doorbell rang. By 12.05, I'd pointed out the damage, and the car had been driven off to the car hospital.
I called the repairer on Friday morning to find out when we could expect it back. When told that the repairer was waiting for parts, my heart sank and I had visions of us not having a car for months. But they were confident that it would only be a matter of days.
The following Thursday, I received a call to say that the car was ready, but that they didn't have a driver available to return it to us. We were welcome to pick it up, at a time convenient to us, or to wait until a driver was available. We arranged for a cab on Saturday morning to take us to the repairers, paid our excess less the cab fare, and drove off.
All in all, I was very impressed with the speed of service we received from both Direct Line and the repairer (White's Paint and Body Shop, Merton). It was useful to be able to track the claim online, through the My Directline section of www.directline.com, and I appreciated having the name of an individual who I could talk to who was familiar with our claim.
The fact that the Direct Line phone lines are open late made it easy to contact them at a time that suited us, and everyone I spoke to throughout was very helpful and courteous.
The only minor niggle was that the car wasn't delivered back to us, but then they gave us the choice and we opted to collect it in order to save time and get it back sooner. Also, the repairers opening hours weren't very convenient - 9-6 weekdays, 9-11.30 Saturday, closed on Sunday.