Zurich Financial Services has launched a pan-European direct insurance product, Zurich Connect, which will allow customers in Germany to purchase insurance policies easily and direct via the internet.

Zurich is the first insurer to introduce a unified pan-European set of products and services on the web that makes it possible to offer similar products on a European scale. These products can be tailored to local standards and legal requirements in each country.

Zurich Connect offers, for the first time, the opportunity for customers to view their account online, seeing exactly what products they have, what their cover levels are, and to update their details if necessary. They will also be able to notify new claims online.

Germany is the first country to go live with its direct offering on the new Zurich Connect platform with a product range across the consumer market. As a result, German customers can now select from car, household and private liability insurance policies, with more products to become available in 2008. In addition to the products now available in Germany, small businesses customers in the UK can purchase commercial vehicle insurance through Zurich Connect.

More products have been available to dedicated partners in the UK and in Spain over recent months. Meanwhile, in Switzerland, direct market leader Zuritel was rebranded and has been successfully selling products under the Zurich Connect name since June 2007.

Zurich is expecting the European direct business to generate an additional $1 billion in gross written premiums and policy fees within the next five years.