Direct Line is the UK's biggest personal lines insurer and the #2 general insurer behind Aviva. The main Direct Line business is supported by several other brands including Churchill and Green Flag. By the end of 2017, the group managed almost 17m in-force policies, of which around 7m were under its own brands and the rest as private label services for third-party clients including NatWest, Sainsbury's and Prudential. Direct Line revolutionised the insurance market when it launched in 1985, based on the simple premise that cover could be sold more cost-effectively by cutting out brokers and dealing direct with customers by phone. It was the first UK insurer to operate in this way, and successfully rolled out its service into several European markets. Until recently the group was a division of the Royal Bank of Scotland. In 2008 RBS said it was considering the sale of part or all of the group to raise funds. It eventually cancelled those plans in 2009 after failing to receive an acceptable offer for the business. However, EU regulators subsequently ruled that the disposal must go ahead regardless. RBS floated an initial stake in the business towards the end of 2012. Most of the remaining shares were sold the following year. Paul Geddes is CEO. Total income for 2017 was £3.5bn; motor insurance accounts for around half that sum.
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