Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Virgin Money to sell car insurance

virgin insurance

- Virgin launches car insurance
- Re-entering home loan, credit card market
- Had 750,000 accounts five years ago

VIRGIN Money has launched a car insurance product which will be followed by other banking products over the next two years.

Sir Richard said Virgin Money would also launch deposits, personal loans, home loans and credit cards.

Virgin Money became a major player in Australia five years ago when it linked with Westpac for a low-cost credit card that snared more than 750,000 accounts, but Westpac inherited those customers when the contract ended a year ago.

Virgin has paired up with Citibank to roll out credit cards, signing a 10-year exclusive profit-sharing contract late last week, The Australian reported on Monday.

The first Citibank-Virgin credit card is scheduled for July next year and then online retail savings and deposit accounts will be rolled out. The accounts will be offered only on the internet or through Citibank's existing call centres, with no branch access.

The joint venture will also develop a Virgin Blue credit card linked to the budget airline with reward points that will compete directly with the Qantas-associated credit cards.

Up to 40pc cheaper - Branson

In the Australian car insurance market, most brands are owned by IAG and Suncorp-Metway, who together hold about 75 per cent of the market.

Sir Richard said he could offer Australians 35 to 40 per cent cheaper car insurance than current insurers.

Sir Richard said Virgin Money was expecting to have 40,000 to 50,000 car insurance customers by the end of 12 months, and would offer products capped for two years, and 13 months for the price of 12, when customers sign up to comprehensive cover online.

Virgin Money's car insurance will be underwritten by Auto & General Insurance Company, one of South Africa's biggest general insurers, which is aiming to expand in Australia.