Direct motor intermediary Hastings Direct has saved its prized freephone number 0800 00 1066 after the telecoms regulator Oftel dropped a plan to add an extra digit to all 0800 numbers.

Hastings Direct had campaigned against the move following the telecoms regulator's announcement of its plans in mid-1998. But Oftel's change of heart finally came at the end of December.

Hastings Direct managing director David Gundlach says he is relieved that the huge sums invested in the promotion of its easily memorised number will not be going to waste.

"For direct insurers, the telephone number is a key component of advertising and marketing campaigns," he said.

"We are pleased that our efforts have resulted in a decision which we believe will benefit the whole industry."

The year 1066, when the Norman duke William the Conquerer overcame the Anglo-Saxon King Harold and took the English throne, is the best-known battle date in British history.