Dial Direct Insurance originated in the UK, where it was developed to meet the emerging needs of the local market at the time. Basically, it cuts out the 'middleman' - an agent who charges commission and administration fees.
"The brand has gone from strength to strength in the SA context," says Anthea Abrahams, director of Dial Direct. "The first benefit the insured enjoys is the premium discount," she says, "because Dial Direct's methodology enables the consumer to deal directly with us without the need for a middleman who would, understandably, charge commissions and fees."
Short-term insurance is a grudge purchase, so cost is always top of mind and potential customers therefore tend to shop around.
This is reflected in the burgeoning vehicle market - new and pre-owned - that is driven by buyers who want the best deal, and they want it immediately.
"Today we operate in a world of instant gratification," says Abrahams. "New vehicle owners are exactly that - they want it now and they want a good deal. We cater exactly to that market; we offer cover that is just a phone call away. A buyer can walk onto a showroom floor and make a purchasing decision, then make a phone call to us and the purchased item is covered immediately!"
The second major attraction is the convenience of making just one phone call, at a time that is convenient to the consumer, to take out the required insurance cover.
The company's underwriting is purely telephonic, so there's no paperwork involved other than the resultant policy documentation that is sent to the customer for the insurance cover taken out.
Last year they launched an on-line claim submission facility, which permits customers to submit their claims on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Another innovation that will soon be launched by Dial Direct is its on-line Policy Management facility. This permits all policy amendments to be done on-line, for example a change to personal details, banking information, and general policy enquiries like checking whether a premium has been paid.
Another draw card is the Bucks Back Bonus that refunds customers with either their first year's premiums or 25 percent of premiums over the past four years, whichever is the lesser, provided they have had no claims. It also offers a number of exceptions to claims; in other words, there are certain claims that the insured can make that will not affect their Bucks back Bonus benefit.
Additional services include free roadside assistance, where rapid roadside emergency solutions are provided in a package that includes car hire to the value of R500 for a 24-hour period (if stranded more than 100 km from home), overnight hotel accommodation for the driver and occupants of the vehicle to a maximum of R500 in a hotel of the service provider's choice, free towing to the nearest approved panelbeater or storage yard after an accident provided the client calls the dedicated Dial Direct assist line, cover for the call out and first hour's labour when assistance with a flat tyre is required, access to mechanics, notification and message service for family or business, and collision procedure advice.
Another package offers free medical assistance in the event of any medical emergency.
In the short-term insurance category of the 2005 Markinor survey - which measures brand loyalty, trust and the relationship with a brand - Dial Direct ranked fifth, and then moved up to third in the 2006 survey, pushing through some of the traditional insurance companies and brokerages. "This bears testimony that the market is aware of the model, that it is appreciated, and that the benefit is recognised," says Abrahams.