Direct Line car insurance review

17 min Read Published: 20 Sep 2021

Direct line car insuranceWho is Direct Line?

Since its launch in 1985, Direct Line's aim has been to make arranging insurance simpler by cutting out all the forms and jargon involved with arranging insurance.

Direct Line started life by offering a single product - car insurance - with just one way of purchasing: over the phone. Direct Line now offers a full range of insurance products with new business, renewals, and claims all carried out online. However, they have elected not to appear on insurance comparison sites.

In this independent review, we take a look at the different policy types that Direct Line offers, what they do and don't cover, how they compare to other insurers, and how you can make a claim.

Direct Line car insurance policies

Direct Line offers three main car insurance policy types:

Single car insurance

Car insurance cover for a single car with one or more drivers. Choose from either Comprehensive, Comprehensive Plus, or Third Party, Fire and Theft cover.

Multi-car insurance discount

A car insurance discount for insuring more than one car registered at the same address. For complete flexibility, separate insurance policies are issued with separate payment dates if needed as well as individual No Claim Discounts.

DrivePlus insurance

DrivePlus is a car insurance policy aimed at drivers under the age of 25 and who drive a car built in 1966 or later. DrivePlus policyholders agree to have a black box fitted to their car that will monitor their driving skills and provide feedback and potential discounts upon renewal. If you have already passed your test, an upfront discount will reduce your premiums.

How does DrivePlus with Direct Line work?

  • When you take out a DrivePlus policy, you will be sent a plug-in device which is simple to install in your car.
  • This device transmits data that Direct Line will use to analyse your driving proficiency.
  • Factors such as speed, acceleration/braking, type of roads you drive on, length of journey and time of day will be analysed.
  • Drive safely and attain a high score and you could be rewarded with a discount when renewing your insurance.
  • Download the DrivePlus app to get feedback on your driving and view summaries of your journeys.

Direct Line car insurance extra benefits

Guaranteed Hire Car

When your car is being repaired by a Direct Line approved repairer then you will be supplied with a small hatchback type hire car until your car is repaired. Alternatively, if you prefer to use your own choice of garage or your car has been written off or stolen, you will be supplied with a hire car for up to 21 consecutive days. This benefit is only offered with Comprehensive cover policies and excludes windscreen claims or customer delayed claims.

Onward Travel

If you have been involved in an accident and your car is unroadworthy you - together with other passengers, pets and belongings - will be provided with a taxi to a single destination in the UK. This benefit is only offered with Comprehensive cover policies.

Fair Claim Commitment

Your No Claim Discount (NCD) is protected if you submit a claim for any of the following:

  • Damage to your car caused by potholes or poor road maintenance.
  • Theft of your car possessions.
  • Theft of your car.
  • Flood damage.
  • If you hit or are hit by an animal.
  • If you are hit by an object or debris (excluding vehicles).

This benefit is only offered with Comprehensive cover policies.

No Claim Discount Protection

Once you have accrued a minimum of 4 years No Claim Discount, with no more than one fault claim within the past three years, you will be eligible to purchase No Claim Discount Protection. Having No Claim Discount Protection means that your No Claim Discount will not be affected by:

  • One claim made during the current period of cover,

or:

  • Two claims arising in the three preceding years of insurance.

Breakdown Cover

In partnership with Green Flag, Direct Line offers four choices of breakdown cover that start from £25.

Motor Legal Protection

If you are involved in an accident where you were not to blame, motor legal protection cover will provide up to £100,000 of legal cost to help you to claim. Your claim must have a better than 50% chance of succeeding and not be covered under any other policy.

Guaranteed Car Hire Plus

For an additional premium, a hire car that is similar in size to your own is provided.

Plus:

  • If you choose a Direct Line approved repairers then you can keep the hire car until your car is fixed.
  • If your car is written off or stolen and you would prefer to use a garage of your choice, you will get the hire car for up to 21 consecutive days.
  • If your car is stolen or you have an accident abroad, an allowance of up to £50 a day (max. of £500) will be paid over the 21 days following your claim (so long as you have extended your cover to that country).

The following table is a summary of the extra benefits available for each policy type.

Direct Line policy summary

Third-Party Fire & Theft Comprehensive Comprehensive Plus
Car hire No Yes (small hatchback) Similar car to own provided
Onward travel No Yes Yes
No Claims Discount protection Yes Yes Yes
Breakdown cover from £25 p.m. Yes Yes Yes
Motor legal cover £100,000 (optional extra) £100,000 (optional extra) £100,000 (included)
Personal accident No £5,000 £10,000
Medical expenses No £200 £400
Hotel expenses No £250 £300
In-car entertainment £500 £1,000 £2,000
Removable electronic equipment £500 £1,000 £2,000
Personal belongings No £250 £500

How do Direct Line extra benefits compare with other insurers?

To provide a comparison between Direct Line and other similar car insurance providers, we have selected three insurers in the comparison table below that are 'Recommended Providers' by Which? according to their survey of the best and worst car insurance.

Direct Line LV NFU Mutual Aviva
Guaranteed hire car Yes £19.90 for small hatchback, £29.90 for similar car to own Limited to 1 litre hatchback Yes
Transport after accident Yes No Yes Yes
No Claims Discount protection Yes Yes No Yes
Breakdown cover From £25 p.a. From £30 p.a. From £19.99 p.a. Individual cost calculation
Motor legal protection (£100,000) £28 p.a. £25.99 p.a. Free £29 p.a.
Multi-car discount Yes Yes No Yes
Black box available Yes No No No
Admin fee for policy amendments No £15 No No
Available on comparison sites No Yes No No

Which factors can impact your Direct Line car insurance quote?

Age and driving experience

Statistics show that the more experienced the driver, the fewer claims they will have when compared to newer drivers. Those drivers under the age of 25 and those over the age of 80 are also more likely to be at fault if they have an accident.

Where you live

The area in which you live will also impact your premiums, as some areas show a higher incidence of claims than others. Increased traffic levels, the number of pedestrians, and local crime levels can all be contributing factors.

Employment

What you do for a living, the time of day that you travel, and the amount of driving you do on a daily basis can all increase the likelihood of an accident.

Vehicle age, make and model

The type and model of the vehicle you drive could increase the risk of it being stolen or increase the cost of repair if damaged. High-performance vehicles driven by inexperienced drivers will increase the risk of an accident.

How much the car is worth

If your car is written off in an accident, the value of the vehicle to be insured will affect the premium.

Annual mileage

Simply put, the more miles you drive on an annual basis, the more likely you are to be involved in an accident.

Driving convictions

When applying for car insurance, you will be required to provide details of any driving convictions which can increase your premiums.

Claims history

When applying for car insurance, you will need to provide comprehensive details of any accidents you have been involved in and any claims made against you.

No Claims Discounts

If you have accrued any NCDs with another insurer, this can be applied to a new Direct Line car insurance policy to reduce the premiums. NCDs can also be swapped between the policyholder and their spouse/partner, provided that the spouse/partner has held their licence long enough to accrue that level of NCD and lives at the same address as the policyholder.

Excess

There are two types of excess applied to Direct Line policies: voluntary and compulsory. The voluntary element of the excess is set at £350, but this can be adjusted with a lower chosen excess, increasing your premium. The level of compulsory excess depends on the policyholders' personal details and the car they drive.

How much does Direct Line car insurance cost?

As with all motor insurance policies, the premium paid will depend on a number of factors, such as the driver's age and driving record together with the make model and age of the car to be insured.

Typical cost of Direct Line car insurance by car make:

Car Make Age 35 Age 45
Volkswagen Golf £532.00 £444.64
Ford Focus 2.0 £588.60 £481.60
Vauxhall Insignia ES200 SRI £795.20 £687.68
Mercedes Benz A-Class £614.88 £448.00

Each quote was calculated using the following details:

  • Comprehensive cover.
  • Voluntary excess of £350.
  • No accidents in the last 3 years.
  • No motoring offences in the past 5 years.
  • Premium paid annually (monthly payment available with representative APR of 24.1%).
  • Year of car manufacture: 2018.

How to make a claim with Direct Line

What you need:

In order to make a claim with Direct Line, you will need the following information:

  • Your policy number and documents.
  • Your vehicle registration number.
  • Details of what happened and when.
  • Details of any other vehicles, people or property involved.
  • Contact details for any witnesses.
  • Crime reference number, if applicable.

How to contact Direct Line:

  • Chipped or cracked windscreen - If you’re claiming for a chipped, cracked or smashed windscreen, you can contact the windscreen repairer Autoglass and they will repair or replace your windscreen, as well as handle your claim.
  • If your car is stolen or has been broken into - If your car has been stolen or broken into, in the first instance report this to the police and ask them for a crime reference number - you will need this when making your claim.
  • Any other claim - For all other car-related claims, you can start a Direct Line claim by completing an online form or by telephone on 0345 303 1714. If you’ve been in an accident and your car is not roadworthy, then you should call the recovery helpline as soon as possible on 0800 269 015.

If you have been involved in an accident involving someone else, make sure you collect as much information as you can to determine who is responsible for the accident and inform Direct Line even if you have no intention of making a claim.

What happens next?

If your car is damaged, Direct Line can arrange for an approved garage to repair it for you. If you’re happy to use them, they’ll contact you to confirm all the arrangements.

If you’re arranging the repairs yourself, your chosen garage will need to review the damage and give an estimate. Direct Line will need to discuss any proposed work before it goes ahead.

Direct Line will keep in contact with you until your claim is settled.

Direct Line customer reviews

Direct Line is rated as 'Excellent' on Trustpilot with a score of 4.2 out of 5 stars across over 7,000 reviews. 65% rated Direct Line as 'Excellent' and 11% as 'Great', citing its quick and simple online quote process and competitive premiums as the best features.

Why does Direct Line not appear on comparison sites?

Comparison sites for car insurance are driven by cost as most people will look for the cheapest option to insure their car. Direct Line will not appear on comparison sites as they feel the additional features and benefits they provide should be taken into account when customers select the car insurance best suited for their needs, rather than focusing on cost in isolation.

Summary

Direct Line is one of the biggest car insurers in the UK and offers a wide range of policies with additional optional extras. Direct Line caters for younger drivers with its DrivePlus 'black box' insurance policy, as well as offering a multi-car discount for households with more than one car.

Direct Line does not appear on comparison sites as it wants its products to be considered based on the features and customer service rather than just costs. It is rated as 'Excellent' on Trustpilot and is a Which? 'Recommended Provider'.