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Direct Line

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Direct Line is part of the RBS Insurance division of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group that specialises in selling insurance
In law and economics, insurance is a form of risk management primarily used to hedge against the risk of a contingent, uncertain loss. Insurance is defined as the equitable transfer of the risk of a loss, from one entity to another, in exchange for payment. An insurer is a company selling the...

 and other financial services over the phone and internet.

It was the first telephone insurer in the UK when launched in 1985 by founder Peter Wood
Peter Wood (businessman)
Peter Wood, CBE is an English entrepreneur, most notable as the founder of the Direct Line and Esure insurance companies. He is the 438th wealthiest person in Britain with a personal fortune of £120 million, according to the Sunday Times Rich List 2009, and his repeated successes in the past...

, and soon became the UK's largest provider of motor vehicle insurance. Its head office is located in Croydon
Croydon is a town in South London, England, located within the London Borough of Croydon to which it gives its name. It is situated south of Charing Cross...

, but the company also has offices in Glasgow
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and third most populous in the United Kingdom. The city is situated on the River Clyde in the country's west central lowlands...

, Bristol
Bristol is a city, unitary authority area and ceremonial county in South West England, with an estimated population of 433,100 for the unitary authority in 2009, and a surrounding Larger Urban Zone with an estimated 1,070,000 residents in 2007...

, Birmingham
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London, with a population of 1,036,900 , and lies at the heart of the West Midlands conurbation, the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a...

, Leeds
Leeds is a city and metropolitan borough in West Yorkshire, England. In 2001 Leeds' main urban subdivision had a population of 443,247, while the entire city has a population of 798,800 , making it the 30th-most populous city in the European Union.Leeds is the cultural, financial and commercial...

, and Manchester
Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. According to the Office for National Statistics, the 2010 mid-year population estimate for Manchester was 498,800. Manchester lies within one of the UK's largest metropolitan areas, the metropolitan county of Greater...

. Overseas, the division has expanded into Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 (Línea Directa), Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 (in partnership with Yasuda Life), Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, and Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...


Direct Line was effectively nationalised alongside RBS in November 2008 during the banking crisis, due to the financial crisis, and RBS's dependency on UK taxpayers' money.


Direct Line is well-known in the UK for its distinctive logo - a red telephone on wheels - which is used extensively in its marketing. In recent years the phone has been joined by a mouse
Mouse (computing)
In computing, a mouse is a pointing device that functions by detecting two-dimensional motion relative to its supporting surface. Physically, a mouse consists of an object held under one of the user's hands, with one or more buttons...

 to reflect online purchasing habits.

Between 2009 and 2010, the phone and mouse appeared together in TV campaigns with Stephen Fry
Stephen Fry
Stephen John Fry is an English actor, screenwriter, author, playwright, journalist, poet, comedian, television presenter and film director, and a director of Norwich City Football Club. He first came to attention in the 1981 Cambridge Footlights Revue presentation "The Cellar Tapes", which also...

 providing the voice of the phone and Paul Merton
Paul Merton
Paul Merton is a British comedian, writer, actor and television presenter. Known for his improvisation skill, his humour is rooted in deadpan, surreal and sometimes dark comedy...

 as the mouse.

New commercials were launched in 2011 featuring Chris Addison
Chris Addison
Chris Addison is an English stand-up comedian, writer and actor. He is known for his lecture-style comedy shows, two of which he later adapted for BBC Radio 4...

, Alexander Armstrong
Alexander Armstrong (comedian)
Alexander Henry Fenwick Armstrong is a British comedian, actor and television presenter.-Early life and career:Armstrong was born in Rothbury, Northumberland, the youngest of three children, to Henry Angus Armstrong and his wife Emma Virginia Peronnet Thompson-McCausland, daughter of Lucius...

 and Amelia Bullmore
Amelia Bullmore
Amelia Bullmore is an English actress and writer. She was born in London and studied drama at the University of Manchester. Bullmore started working as an actor but turned to writing in 1995...


Products, facts and figures

Direct Line also runs a roadside recovery service, which operates under the name of Green Flag
Green Flag
Green Flag is a roadside rescue company based in the UK. It was formed in 1971 as the National Breakdown Recovery Club and operated under this name under the ownership of National Car Parks until 1994, when it was renamed Green Flag as a symbolic brand name...

. Green Flag is the third largest vehicle accident and breakdown company in the UK. Green Flag's head office is at Pudsey
Pudsey is a market town in West Yorkshire, England. Once an independent town, it was incorporated into the metropolitan borough of the City of Leeds in 1974, and is located midway between Bradford and Leeds city centres. It has a population of 32,391....

in Leeds. It operates a 24-hour call centre for vehicles in distress. In 2005, Green Flag took its ten millionth call.

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