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Budget Direct named Money magazine's Insurer of the Year

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Of the 6300 reviews left on Budget Direct's website as at June this year, an overwhelming 4950 customers rated it five-star and another 1400 rated it four-star.

This is a phenomenal result that speaks to the reasons why the insurer is back for the third consecutive year as the winner in this category.

The courtship begins when a policyholder chooses Budget Direct over other insurers, but the marriage starts at claims time.

The group has also been working on its online policy management system for over three years and has been adding new functionalities since.

Budget Direct named Insurer of the Year 2019

To make the process easier for first-time claimants, Budget Direct has a 24/7 online service and a claims team available at all hours through its Live Chat support.

One of the nifty features of the system, which is becoming more mainstream these days but is refreshing to see in an insurance company, is the option to save a partially completed online submission that the claimant can return to later.

The continually updated system appears to be working. Instead of going through Budget Direct's contact centre or phone line, the system manages queries from well over 100,000 unique customers every month.

Ram Kangatharan, Budget Direct's Asia Pacific group managing director and chief executive, says it is riding the wave of the "savvy customer".

"Be they young or older, these are the customers that are willing to consider a challenger brand that simply does it better for them than the historic brands," he says.

Launched in 2000, Budget Direct entered a crowded market and rose to the top by putting together home and contents insurance, and vehicle insurance, with all the necessary inclusions and more.

For example, the group is willing to pay as much as 25% more than the nominated amount for home building insurance under a feature called "sum insured safeguard".

Since winning the award last year, Budget Direct also has upgraded its standard benefits to include a hire car following a no-fault accident. Previously a hire car was only available to customers whose car was stolen.

And realising that customers can simply go online to find the best deal, Budget Direct premiums are often lower than those of its competitors.

Its 30% online discount deal for home and contents insurance, for example, trumps that of another popular insurance provider that could offer only a 15% discount.

Just before Christmas last year, Sydney was struck by a hailstorm declared the most costly catastrophe for insurance companies in 2018.

The damage bill rose to more than $125 million with 25,000 claims lodged within hours of the storm. Three-quarters of the claims were made for damage to motor vehicles.

To accommodate hundreds of car insurance policyholders, Budget Direct set up a warehouse where damaged cars were inspected and claims swiftly processed, with some receiving a claims outcome within days.

This year CGU maintained its second spot in the ranking while Commonwealth Bank was edged out by GIO to round up the top three. CGU boasts a loyal base with policy holders among the least likely to switch come renewal period.

Meanwhile, GIO policyholders benefit from some of the extra perks provided
by its parent company, Suncorp.

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