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Direct Line car insurance review

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As part of Direct Line Group, Direct Line is one of the biggest car insurance providers in the country. 

Established in 1985, it has four main policies: Third party, fire and theft, Essentials, Comprehensive, and Comprehensive Plus.

Yet if you want to compare Direct Line car insurance quotes, you’ll have to do so directly, as the provider isn’t on price comparison websites.

Read on for our Direct Line car insurance review, including what cover it offers, how it compares to its competitors, and what its customers think of its service.

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What car insurance cover is offered by Direct Line?

Direct Line offers four main levels of cover, alongside a number of specialist policies for different driving profiles.

Third party, fire and theft

With Direct Line’s third party, fire and theft insurance, your cover will include:

  • Injuries to other people: if you injury a third party in an accident, you have unlimited over
  • Damage to other people’s property: if you damage someone’s car, or other property, in an accident, you have cover up to £20,000,000 per accident (including all costs and expenses)
  • Fire damage: if your car is damaged in a fire, you can claim up to the market value of your vehicle
  • Theft: if your car is stolen, or is damaged during an attempted theft, you can claim up to the market value of your vehicle
  • Child seat replacement: if you child seat is damaged in a fire, or stolen, you can get a replacement
  • Manufacturer-fitted in-car entertainment: as long as your in-car entertainment was fitted in your car when it was made, you have unlimited cover if it is stolen or damaged in a fire
  • Aftermarket in-car entertainment: if your in-car entertainment was fitted after it was made, you can claim up to £500 in the event of a theft or fire
  • Removable electronic equipment: you can claim up to £500 for any removable electronic equipment that is stolen or damaged in a fire
  • Driving other cars: if eligible, you will be able to drive other cars with third party cover
  • Repairs guaranteed: any repairs made by an approved repairer are guaranteed for five years

This means you cannot claim for any repairs to your own car if you are in an accident.

Essentials

Direct Line Essentials if the first of the provider’s three comprehensive insurance policies. It includes:

  • Injuries to other people: if you hurt someone in an accident, you can claim for an unlimited amount
  • Damage to other people’s property: you’ll be covered up to £20,000,000 per accident
  • Accidental damage to your own car: up to the market value of your vehicle
  • Fire damage: you can claim up to the market value of your car if it is damaged in a fire
  • Theft: if your vehicle is stolen, or damaged in an attempted theft, you can claim up to its market value
  • Child seat replacement: you can get a replacement child seat if it is stolen, or damaged in a fire or accident
  • Manufacturer-fitted in-car entertainment: you have unlimited cover for any in-car entertainment that was fitted in your car when it was made, whether it is damaged in a fire, damaged in an accident, or stolen
  • Key cover: you can claim up to £1,000 if your keys are stolen
  • Windscreen repairs: you can claim for the market value of your windscreens if you use an approved repairer
  • Courtesy car cover: you’ll receive a small hatchback courtesy car, with a maximum engine of 1,000cc, if your car needs to be repaired and you take it to an approved repairer
  • Misfuelling: if you damage your car by misfuelling, you can claim for up to the market value of your vehicle 
  • Personal accident: you can make a personal accident claim up to a maximum of £5,000 for your or your partner with Direct Line Essentials cover
  • Medical expenses: you can claim £200 in medical expenses
  • Uninsured driver promise: if you claim for an accident that isn’t your fault, and the other driver is uninsured, you’ll not need to pay the excess, and your no-claims bonus won’t be affected
  • Vandalism promise: if your car is vandalised, and you make a claim, your no-claims bonus will be unaffected as long as you report it to the police and provide Direct Line with the crime reference number

Comprehensive

With Direct Line Comprehensive cover, you’ll have everything included in the Essentials policy, as well as:

  • Aftermarket in-car entertainment: you can claim up to £1,000 for any in-car entertainment that was fitted after your car was made in the event of theft, fire and accidental damage
  • Removable electronic equipment: you can claim up to £1,000 for any removable electronic equipment in the event of theft, fire and accidental damage
  • Guaranteed Hire Car: instead of a courtesy car, you will receive a Guaranteed Hire Car for the duration of the repair. This will still be a small hatchback, but its engine won’t be limited to 1,000cc
  • Key cover: you can claim up to £1,000 for stolen, lost or damaged car keys
  • New car replacement: if your new car is stolen or is written off, and it is less than one year old, you can receive a like-for-like replacement car 
  • Personal belongings: you can claim up to £250 for personal belongings lost, damaged or stolen, excluding money, credit or debit cards, tickets, touchers, stamps, and documents
  • Hotel expenses: if you cannot drive your car after an accident, or it has been stolen, you can claim up to £250 in hotel expenses
  • Fair claim commitment: you no-claims bonus won’t be affected if you claim for damage resulting from fire, flood, storm, pothole or poor road maintenance; if you’re car is hit while parked, by an animal, or by an object or debris; if your car is stolen, or something was stolen from it; or you claim for your keys if they are lost or damaged
  • Onward travel: if you can’t drive because your car has been damaged or stolen, you can claim for a taxi to take you and your passengers to a UK destination of your choice

Comprehensive Plus

Everything at the Essentials and Comprehensive cover is included in Direct Line Comprehensive Plus, alongside:

  • Aftermarket in-car entertainment: you can claim up to £2,000 for any in-car entertainment systems installed after your car was made, in the event of fire, theft or accidental damage
  • Removable electronic equipment: you can claim up to £2,000 for any removable electronic equipment, in the event of fire, theft or accidental damage
  • Guaranteed Hire Car Plus: you will receive a temporary replacement vehicle that is a similar size to your own car if it needs to be repaired
  • New car replacement: if your new car is stolen or is written off, and it is less than two years old, you can receive a like-for-like replacement car 
  • Personal belongings: you can claim up to £50 for personal belongings lost, damaged or stolen, excluding money, credit or debit cards, tickets, touchers, stamps, and documents
  • Personal accident: you can claim up to £10,000 in the event of a personal accident to you or your partner
  • Medical expenses: you can claim medical expenses up to £400
  • Hotel expenses: if you cannot drive your car after an accident, or it has been stolen, you can claim up to £300 in hotel expenses
  • Motor legal cover: you’ll have cover for up to £100,000 in legal costs to related to motoring offences, motor contract disputes, and road traffic accidents

Other Direct Line car insurance products

As well as the main policies above, Direct Line also offers:

  • DrivePlus: this is a comprehensive telematics insurance policy for drivers under 26 years old. A device will be installed in your car that’ll track your driving habits. It can give young drivers a discount on their first year’s car insurance policy, and the chance of a further discount at renewal
  • Multi-car insurance: Direct Line’s multi-car insurance doesn’t bundle all your vehicles into one policy, but insures each car individually, while still providing you with a discount
  • Electric car insurance: with Direct Line’s specialist electric cover cover, you’ll also receive a Zoom EV bundle that includes discounts on home and public charging
  • Van insurance: you can take out specific van insurance with Direct Line, for up to five drivers on one policy

Direct Line car insurance policies at a glance

Third party, fire and theft Essentials Comprehensive Comprehensive Plus
Age range All All All All
Level of cover Third party, fire and theft Comprehensive Comprehensive Comprehensive
Injuries to other people Yes Yes Yes Yes
Damage to other people’s property Yes Yes Yes Yes
Theft Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fire damage Yes Yes Yes Yes
Repairs to your own car following accident No Yes Yes Yes
Motor legal protection Optional Optional Optional Yes
Your medical expenses No Up to £200 for medical expenses. Up to £5,000 personal accident cover Up to £200 for medical expenses. Up to £5,000 personal accident cover Up to £400 for medical expenses. Up to £10,000 personal accident cover
Driving other cars Yes No Yes Yes
Breakdown cover Optional Optional Optional Optional
Courtesy car cover No Yes Yes Yes
Hire car cover No Optional Yes Yes
Windscreen replacement No Yes Yes Yes
Personal belongings No No Up to £250 Up to £500
Replacement locks and keys No No (but up to £1,000 for theft of car keys) Up to £1,000 Up to £1,000
Protected no-claims bonus Optional Optional Optional Optional
Cancellation fee Free (within 14-day cooling off period). £48.16 (after 14 days) Free (within 14-day cooling off period). £48.16 (after 14 days) Free (within 14-day cooling off period). £48.16 (after 14 days) Free (within 14-day cooling off period). £48.16 (after 14 days)

Direct Line car insurance optional extras

You can add the following optional extras to your Direct Line car insurance policy:

  • Green Flag breakdown cover: through Direct Line’s partnership with Green Flag, you can choose from five levels of breakdown cover
  • Motor legal protection: you can get cover for up to £100,000 in legal costs for a claim where no other insurance policy will cover your losses, and there is a more than 50 per cent chance you’ll succeed in your claim
  • Protected no-claims bonus: if you have a no-claims bonus of at least four years, with a maximum of one fault claim in the last three years, you can get Direct Line’s protected no-claims discount add-on. This means your bonus won’t be affected if you made one claim during the current period of cover, or two claims within the three preceding years of insurance
  • Guaranteed Hire Car Plus: with this add-on, you will receive a similar-sized car in the event you need a temporary replacement while you car is being repaired at one of Direct Line’s approved garages

How to claim with Direct Line car insurance

If you need to make a car insurance claim through Direct Line, you should complete the following steps:

  1. Make sure everyone is okay: this includes yourself, any passengers in your car, and the driver and any passengers of the other vehicle (if a third party is involved)
  2. Contact Direct Line as soon as possible: even if you don’t want to make a claim, you should contact your provider as soon as you can. You can do so online or by calling 0345 246 8811. You’ll need your policy number and documents to hand, as well as your vehicle registration number, the details of the incident and those who were involved, and a crime reference number if applicable
  3. Outline the claim you’d like to make: Direct Line will ask you questions about the incident. This is where you can say what kind of claim you want to make
  4. Direct Line will arrange the next steps: depending on what claim you’re making, Direct Line will arrange the best course of action. For example, you may be towed to an approved repairer and supplied with a courtesy car

How to cancel Direct Line car insurance

If you want to cancel your Direct Line car insurance policy, you will need to get in touch with the provider.

If you cancel your cover before the policy begins, you will receive a full refund. If it is within the 14-day cooling-off period, you’ll pay for the time you’ve had, and get a refund for the rest of the premium. Any cancellations after that will see you refunded for the time you have left on the premium, minus an administration fee.

Cancellation period Fee
Within 14 days of your policy start date £0
After 14 days, or if Direct Line needs to cancel your policy £48.16

How to contact Direct Line car insurance

If you need to contact Direct Line for any reason aside from making a claim, you can do so on the following:

  • Phone: 0345 878 5155 (8am to 9pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm Saturdays, 9am to 4pm Sundays)
  • Social media: @DirectLine on X and DirectLineUK on Facebook (8am to 9pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm Saturdays, 9am to 4pm Sundays)
  • Automated virtual assistant

Direct Line car insurance customer reviews

Direct Line has an ‘Average’ Trustpilot rating of 3.7 out of five, based on more than 16,600 reviews. 

It’s important to note, however, that these reviews are for the Direct Line brand as a whole, and not just its car insurance products.

Of the five star reviews that mention car insurance, Direct Line is praised for the smooth manner in which it deals with claims. Similarly, there was praise for its over the phone customer service, whether it was negotiating a better quote, or helping people find the right level of cover for their needs.

However, the negative reviews repeatedly mention high renewal quotes for loyal customers that are only reduced once challenged.  

“Very straightforward to make a claim. Very efficiently dealt with. Kept informed at all stages of the process through [the] repair company and hire car company. Excellent service – very impressed.”

“Car insurance claim with Direct Line. Has always been [a] smooth experience from repair to courtesy car. No dramas or complexities, and [the] online process made it straightforward. Although [I] did have to phone for [the] odd query, but again always smooth.”

“As a ‘valued’ customer I don’t understand why: 1. The renewal rate is often higher than that of a first-time customer. 2. They can literally reduce your renewal price by a 1/3 if you call them/ speak to them on chat to say you are leaving. Just treat your ‘valued/ loyal’ customers right [the] first time and it will save a whole lot of money and time for both parties. The only reason I stay with Direct Line is because they cover car seats to full value in the case of an accident.”

What Defaqto rating does Direct Line car insurance have?

While its Trustpilot score might be average, Direct Line has a number of positively reviewed policies on Defaqto, including:

  • Comprehensive: ★★★★★
  • Comprehensive Plus: ★★★★★
  • DrivePlus (app and plugin): ★★★★★
  • Van insurance: ★★★★★
  • Third party, fire and theft: ★★★
  • Essentials: ★★★

How does Direct Line compare to its competitors?

Provider name Trustpilot score Defaqto score
Direct Line 3.7 stars 5 stars (3 stars for Third party, fire and theft and Essentials)
People’s Choice 1.4 stars 5 stars (4 stars for third party, fire and theft)
Hastings Direct 4.1 stars 5 stars (4 stars for Third party, fire and theft, 3 stars for Telematics, 2 stars for Essential)
Admiral Insurance 4.4 stars 5 stars (4 stars for Telematics, 3 stars for Essential)
Aviva 4.0 stars 5 stars (3 stars for Third party, fire and theft)
AXA 4.3 stars 4 stars (5 stars for Plus)
LV= 4.5 stars 5 stars (3 stars for Third party, fire and theft)
esure 3.2 stars 5 stars (4 stars for Third party, fire and theft)
Ageas 4.1 stars 5 stars (3 stars for Essentials, and Telematics)
NFU Mutual 4.4 stars 5 stars

All scores are correct as of 4 December 2023.

Conclusion

Praised online for its efficiency when dealing with claims, Direct Line’s Comprehensive and Comprehensive Plus policies seem the pick of the bunch, with both receiving five stars from Defaqto.

The Fair Claim Commitment is one of the standout features of those policies, protecting your no-claims bonus in the event of certain incidents without you needing to purchase a specific add-on. You’ll also receive hire car cover with both policies, rather than standard courtesy car cover.

The Third party, fire and theft and Essentials policies are less recommended, but still each receive three stars from Defaqto.

However, you won’t find Direct Line on price comparison websites. So if you want to compare its car insurance quotes with other providers, you’ll need to do this manually. 

Direct Line car insurance FAQs

Direct Line car insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited.

Direct Line and Churchill, alongside other providers such as Green Flag, are owned by Direct Line Group PLC.

One key difference between Direct Line and Churchill is that Churchill appears on some price comparison websites, while Direct Line does not.

Connor Campbell

Finance Writer

Connor Campbell is an experienced personal and business finance writer who has been producing online content for almost a decade. 

Connor is the personal finance expert for Independent Advisor, guiding readers through everything they need to know about car insurance and home insurance. From how much it costs to the best insurance providers in the UK, he’s here to help you find the right policy for your needs. 

In his capacity as writer and spokesperson at NerdWallet, Connor explored a number of topics close to his heart, such as the impact of our increasingly cashless society, and the hardships and heroics of British entrepreneurs. His commentary was featured in sites such as The Mirror, the Daily Express and Business Insider

At financial trading firm Spreadex, meanwhile, his market commentary was featured in outlets such as The Guardian, BBC, Reuters and the Evening Standard

Connor is a voracious reader with an MA in English, and is dedicated to making life’s financial decisions a little bit easier by doing away with jargon and needless complexity.

Amy Reeves

Editor

Amy is a seasoned writer and editor with a special interest in home design, sustainable technology and green building methods.

She has interviewed hundreds of self-builders, extenders and renovators about their journeys towards individual, well-considered homes, as well as architects and industry experts during her five years working as Assistant Editor at Homebuilding & Renovating, part of Future plc.

Amy’s work covers topics ranging from home, interior and garden design to DIY step-by-steps, planning permission and build costs, and has been published in Period Living, Real Homes, and 25 Beautiful Homes, Homes and Gardens.

Now an Editor at the Independent Advisor, Amy manages homes-related content for the site, including solar panels, combi boilers, and windows.

Her passion for saving tired and inefficient homes also extends to her own life; Amy completed a renovation of a mid-century house in 2022 and is about to embark on an energy-efficient overhaul of a 1800s cottage in Somerset.