Eagle Star Direct is offering car insurance 24-hours a day over the Net. Visitors to its site can get an instant online quote and then submit credit card details to order a policy.
The company is selling a 15 per cent reduction in the cost of the chosen policy - but only if it is ordered and bought on the Internet. "We've recognised that customers want to shop in different ways," said Andrew Baud, a representative for Eagle Star Direct.
The site, which went live on 18 August, was designed by online commerce company Entranet for an undisclosed sum in less than four months. "Globally there was very little in terms of insurance on the Net," said Mike Williams, Entranet sales and marketing director. "We concluded that the UK typically lags behind the US. We thought with this site we could steal a march on the US."
Williams said that Eagle Star Direct's move into online commerce will benefit all the parties involved. "We're giving control to the consumer, taking the administration burden away from Eagle Star and giving a price incentive (with the discount)," he said.
While the site is still in its infancy, Eagle Star Direct said it has been pleasantly surprised by the amount of initial interest, receiving a couple of hundred quotes even before it had started advertising the site. It is also considering plans to introduce travel and home insurance to the Web in the future.
"At the moment, the Internet is the cheapest way of doing business," said Extranet's Williams. Eagle Star is confident people will submit card details over the Web. "It's like giving card details over the phone or to a waiter in a restaurant," said Baud. (www.eaglestardirect.co.uk/)
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