The founder of Internet Bookshop and, Darryl Mattocks, has turned his hand to the insurance market with the launch of virtual intermediary, Rapidinsure.

Mattocks is one of three internet entrepreneurs at the helm of the company, which believes personal lines insurance can be revolutionised by the internet.

Mattocks' co-founders are James Spalding, a former project manager with Lockheed Martin and IBM, and ex-broker Richard Dunbabin.

Rapidsure acts as an intermediary for four insurance providers.

The company now has a staff of 12, but believes the maximum number of employees it will ever need is just 25. This is due to the potential the internet has to automate insurance processes.

Rapidinsure already provides pet travel and term life cover from Kiln, home cover from Fortis, personal accident (in connection with travel) from Anthony Kidd, and a computer maintenance policy from broker Burnetts.

Other lines of business, including motor and office maintenance, will be launched over the next few months.

Mattocks and his colleagues have already drummed up £1m of funding for the site from both personal investment and venture capital.

Non-executive chairman Mattocks said: "With world-wide on-line insurance sales expected to reach £750m by 2001, I believe that RapidInsure's uncomplicated insurance product is the right product at the right time."

Mattocks claims a combination of the insurance industry's cautious background, and the complexity of the insurance process has stunted internet growth in the sector. He added: "By simplifying this process, we are providing a much-needed product."