It's the insurer that squawks at us - using clucking chickens wearing headsets - to stuff call centres. But new arrival the "internet-only" Swiftcover still needed some people to answer its phones.

It's the insurer that squawks at us - using clucking chickens wearing headsets - to stuff call centres. But new arrival the "internet-only" Swiftcover still needed some people to answer its phones.

So, it plucked up its courage and opened one in Teeside - and to ensure an oven-ready stream of recruits, picked a location almost next door to rival Churchill.

Swiftcover spokeswoman Kay Gorman, herself ex-Churchill, denies any poaching, or grilling or frying for that matter, is going on. "Our help team is not there not to sell cover, but to help customers through the process and with claims if they need it. It is a help centre, not a call centre."

So far around 50 helpers are in place, and Kay - a bit of a Mother Hen herself - insists they all came from legitimate sources - primarily as a result of local press advertising.

Meanwhile Swiftcover is spending £12m on national advertising, including using Text2Insure, the first company to sell cover via mobile phone text messaging. Success rates remain to be seen, but no doubt those at disgruntled RBSI will have a few clichés at the ready about not counting your chickens...