The number of personal lines products sold face-to-face could fall further if the banks decide to aggressively increase competition in the sector, according to new research by Deloitte.

At present, just 39% of personal lines sales are face-to-face, down from 84% 15 years ago. This followed the emergence of direct insurers such as Direct Line which traded via the telephone and internet. However, since 2002, the decline has begun to level off.

Deloitte predicted direct sales could shrink further if the large financial institutions such as banks, which in recent years have been looking to build their general insurance books, increased competition in the sector.

Scott Winslow, head of financial services research said: "It depends on how banks and others aggressively push to integrate direct sales processes into their platforms. If they want to build their businesses [the percentage of direct sales] will drop further."