Marbles, Atlas and Argos top the first Insurance Times survey of call centre customer service in travel insurance, as compiled by Direct Excellence.

Between July and September 2002, Direct Excellence mystery shoppers called 50 companies at the same time of day on the same day of the week to assess response times and price. The survey covers only policies offered over the phone.

Direct Excellence commented: "Prices for travel insurance show some of the widest variations of all products monitored. Given that risks and testing procedures are constant, variances may be attributable to differences in policy benefits. However call centre agents of the 50 companies regularly tested made no reference to benefits, to differentiate product or support price."

This is the first of a new weekly series of call centre performance guides that will be published exclusively in Insurance Times.