Britain's biggest supermarket chain, Tesco is to start selling motor insurance across the UK after a pilot venture at 150 stores proved successful.

Paul Baxter, head of insurance at Tesco Personal Finance said several thousand policies had been sold during the pilot, which exceeded the company's expectations.

He said: "Initial results show the pilot project, which is a joint venture from the Royal Bank of Scotland and Tesco Personal Finance, has exceeded our predictions. More than a few thousand policies have been sold."

Tesco now intends to roll out the programme to its 639 stores and 300 filling stations in two phases, the first began on Monday and the second starts in March.

Leaflets placed at the stores' checkouts will direct customers to ring Tesco's dedicated call centre, staffed by 100 operators, for a quote from its underwriters Privilege Insurance, which the company's bosses insist will be "extremely competitive".

Tesco is offering to cover both standard and non-standard vehicles, and its policies will include access to legal advice and a windscreen replacement service. Baxter said Tesco expects the package with its discount priced breakdown cover will prove popular.

He said: "The aim is to target our heartland customer base of family motorists."

However, policyholders who buy the cover will not be eligible for extra loyalty card points.

David Hiddleston, business development manager at direct writer Churchill, remained relaxed about Tesco's expansion in the £6 billion standard and non-standard motor insurance market.

He said: "They will have to meet their customers' relatively high expectations for a quality deal at a competitive price. This may prove difficult, especially when it begins to handle claims, as Tesco's customer base ranges from 21-year-olds to middle-aged family drivers."