10 Best Car Insurance Companies in UK - Cheapest Quotes and Good Services
|10 Best Car Insurance Companies in UK - Cheapest Quotes and Good Services|
Car insurance is a legal requirement all around the world and in the UK. If you own or drive a car in the UK, the law says you must have at least third-party only insurance. You must have insurance, even if you don’t drive your car, and you keep it parked on a road, driveway, or in a garage.
There are many ways to judge car insurance companies, so you must look at several factors. To make the insurance shopping experience a little less painful, we’ve created this post to help compare some of the best car insurance companies in the United Kingdom.
Below is the list 10 best car insurance companies with cheap quotes and good services for every UK car owner, ranking by Knowinsiders.
What type of car insurance do you need to drive legally in the UK?
To drive legally in the UK you have to have car insurance.
There are no exceptions to this - and automated cameras on police cars will check your number plate against a national database and issue fines to anyone they catch without the right cover in place.
The legal minimum cover is known as "third party" - although that only offers the bare legal amount and won't cover any damage to your own car. It's there to ensure anyone or anything you hit in an accident is protected financially at the very least.
You can take out more extensive cover - offering protection from theft, fire and to cover your car for damage or breakdowns too - but this is a personal choice rather than a legal requirement.
If you don't plan on driving your car, but are still parked on public roads, you need to inform the authorities using a statutory off-road notice (SORN) to make sure you aren't fined.
Many Types of Car Insurance in the UK
Third-party only car insurance
Third-party cover is the most basic level of car insurance. It just covers you for any compensation you might have to pay for injury to others and for damage to anyone else’s property. It’s a minimum legal requirement for all drivers in the UK to have this insurance.
That means any damage to your car, injuries to you as a driver, theft or your car and breakdowns will not be covered by your insurance and you'll have to pay for them yourself.
Third-party, fire and theft car insurance
Third-party, fire, and theft car insurance cover other parties involved in an accident with you, in the same way, third-party only cover. It also gives you protection if your vehicle is stolen or damaged by fire.
Remember that it doesn’t payout for any damage to your own vehicle if you had an accident. That means you'll need to cover the repair costs of your car yourself in the event of an accident that's not another driver's fault.
Fully comprehensive car insurance
Comprehensive car insurance – sometimes called fully comprehensive, or just fully comp – covers you, your car, passengers, and property as well as damage to third parties. And it also protects your car against vandalism and theft.
It's also frequently the cheapest car insurance cover option - as insurers see people willing to fully protect their car as less risky than people taking out the third party only and third party, fire, and theft damage.
UK car insurance costs
Car insurance costs in the UK will depend on factors including:
-driver age, history, and profile;
-what you will use the vehicle for.
The average cost for car insurance in the UK in 2018 was £431 a year. This is among the highest in the EU.
You can look to lower your annual car insurance premiums by:
-reducing risks associated with your car – for example, fitting sensors or installing an alarm to reduce the risk of theft;
-Take out telematics (also known as ‘black box’) insurance that sees a device fixed to your car that tracks your driving habits. If you’re a safe driver, you could see reductions on future premiums;
-paying the annual amount up front rather than in monthly installments;
-increasing your excess – this is the amount you will need to pay against any claim. For example, if you have an excess of £100 and the value of the claim is £500, the insurer will pay £400. All insurers have a compulsory excess but you can voluntarily increase this to bring down the premium;
-if you are a young or inexperienced driver, you can add drivers with a good driver profile to the insurance policy.
List of top 10 best car insurance companies in UK
(Cheapest Quotes and Good Services)
1. John Lewis Finance
2. Direct Line
8. Bell Insurance
9. Age Co
10. Dial Direct
How to rank the best car insurance companies in the UK?
We’ve collected the latest information about nearly 50 car insurers from independent expert review and customer ideas. Rather than rate these companies on price, we used expert research to determine the quality of both the cover and service provided by each provider.
These rankings are based on Bought by Many's latest data and more. Bought by Many's ranking based on high scores for customer service and complaints handling from financial services review firms including Fairer Finance, as well as the quality of the cover on offer, including additional add-ons.
1. John Lewis FinanceWhat are the best car insurance companies in the UK?
For over 150 years, Britain has trusted John Lewis to deliver quality products at competitive prices with an unmatched level of customer service on the high street. This is why when it comes to financial services, you can also trust us to deliver peace of mind.
John Lewis Finance secures the fourth spot, thanks to its high scores for customer service and complaints handling given by research and rating agency Fairer Finance.
John Lewis Finance has been offering quality financial solutions at competitive prices for over 150 years. Its car insurance offers misfuelling cover, uninsured driver protection, friendly expert services, a courtesy car, onward travel cover, and 90-day European cover. It also allows customers to tweak their policies through optional extras such as legal protection, car breakdown, and a protected no claim discount. Its policies are underwritten by Covea Insurance plc.
2. Direct Line
The Direct Line Group sells Direct Line car insurance directly to customers but is also strong in the PCW space, with their Churchill, Darwin, and Privilege motor insurance brands. In fact, while 67% of their sales were direct to customers via the Direct Line brand in 2020, 30.2% of premiums were sold via the PCW channel in 2020. The company continues to focus on technology with the roll-out of the new motor insurance platform. And the group has increased its presence on price comparison websites with the launch of the Darwin branch.
While gross written premium dropped by 2.1% in 2020, the number of in-force motor insurance policies rose 0.4% to 4.1 million.
Direct Line is also in partnership with Volkswagen, by providing both annual insurance policies and complimentary ' 5-day driveaway' cover for customers buying new and used cars from Volkswagen, SEAT, Audi, and ŠKODA dealers through UK Insurance Group (which is part of Direct Line Group).
Direct Line offers a few unique propositions such as protecting your no claim discount on no-fault claims. While Direct Line underwrites home insurance as well, car insurance is their main line of business, accounting for 50% of their gross written premiums.
Aviva's MultiCar insurance is another good option. You can add up to 5 cars to your policy and save 10% for every additional vehicle, provided they’re all registered at the same address. You’ll also earn a no-claims discount for each vehicle, so if one has an accident, it won’t affect the rest. Please note that discounts do not apply to optional add-ons.
Aviva offers its policies directly to consumers and does not list them on price comparison sites, which means you will have to get a quote directly from the Aviva site or by calling them.
Aviva divides its car insurance into two groups:
- Aviva Car Insurance — Traditional car insurance that covers you against the cost of accidents and damages through their comprehensive and third party, fire, and theft policies.
- AvivaPlus — The AvivaPlus also offers accident, third party, fire, and theft, and comprehensive coverage options but runs as a flexible subscription service. You can pay monthly interest-free, cancel at any time and add and remove cover options at any time at no extra cost. However, this cover was tricky to find on the Aviva website.
|Additional forms of car insurance in the UK |
You can purchase additional forms of car insurance in the UK to mitigate further risks. These include:
Breakdown insurance – covers costs of a roadside breakdown, such as repair, getting the car towed away, and sorting out replacement transport;
Warranty – covers any mechanical faults with the car. This is often included with new cars, but some companies offer an additional warranty, such as MotorEasy.
Legal insurance – covers legal expenses in the event of an incident that goes to court;
No-claims protection – protects your no-claims bonus in the event of making a claim. You will usually need to wait until a minimum no-claims period has elapsed (e.g. 3 years);
Personal accident insurance – covers any medical costs that would otherwise need to be met;
Driving overseas – at present, UK insurance policies cover cars taken to EU countries but this may change. You can extend your policy to cover additional countries at the same level as your UK policy;
Lost or stolen keys – covers the cost of replacements.
Admiral is one of the largest car insurance providers in the UK, with brands around the world. It has grown from only 57 staff in 1993 to more than 10,000 people at its offices in the UK, Spain, Italy, France, USA, Canada, India, Mexico, and Turkey.
Admiral is a UK-based insurance company that specializes in car insurance. The insurer leapfrogs almost all other companies in the list, rising from the 10th to the second spot. It received an overall rating of 8.9 out of 10 from customer reviews verified by software company Reevoo and gained scores of 9.1 for ease of purchase, 8.9 for clarity of policy information, and 8.7 for value for money.
The company offers car, van, home, and travel insurance, as well as personal loans and car finance. As part of its commitment to supporting more than 6.5 million customers worldwide, each department in the company consistently asks customers for feedback and receives recognition for excellent service.
Admiral’s car insurance is divided into three levels of coverage: comprehensive; third-party only; and third party, fire, and theft. Its comprehensive plan provides the most coverage – covering third party, fire, theft, and the cost of repairing or replacing the vehicle is involved in an accident or damaged maliciously. It also has numerous benefits, including windscreen coverage, a courtesy car, and extended cover for policyholders driving overseas.
Hastings is certainly another well-known brand, especially for those who use price comparison websites (PCWs). In fact, in 2018 73% of Hastings premiums written to new car insurance customers were sold through the PCW market. Brands include Hastings Direct, Hastings Premier, Hastings Essential, Hastings Direct Smart Miles (a black box plan), insurePink, and People's Choice.
Hastings is targeted at those buying through a comparison site. Depending on where you live, you're likely to find their "Hastings Essential" plan is the cheapest of their offerings (and it's only available through PCWs) but there may be cheaper options available from other insurers in the top 10—if finding the lowest premium is your priority.
Hastings offers flexible car insurance with several benefits, giving policyholders the freedom to add optional features, including enhanced personal accident cover, breakdown, motor legal expenses, and key protection.
Canceling a contract or changing provider
You can cancel your car insurance contract with one provider and switch to another at any time. All insurers should by law offer a 14-day “cooling off” period after you sign up, where you can cancel and get a full refund on any amount paid.
However, if you cancel after this period, you may be liable for paying fees. If you’ve signed up for a year-long contract, which is the standard, you can usually annul the contract if you want to terminate it or switch providers part-way through.
The good news is you won’t be charged for the full year and can usually get a refund if you’ve paid annually upfront, but insurance companies usually charge cancellation fees and sometimes additional admin fees. These should be explained to you when you sign up.
Many UK car insurance policies include an auto-renewal clause, meaning that you will automatically be signed up for an additional period if you don’t inform the company otherwise before it runs out. Beware of this and shop around for cheaper deals well in advance of the expiry date on your policy.
Churchill Insurance was deemed as providing one of the best individual multi-car and business car insurance policies in the UK.
Founded in 1989, Churchill Insurance was among the first direct motor insurance providers in the UK. Its car insurance has a 24-hour emergency helpline, guaranteed repairs for five years if the policyholder uses Churchill-approved repairers, a new vandalism promise, and a courtesy car as standard. It also allows customers to choose among a replacement, upgrade, or money when the car is written off.
Churchill is often the cheapest quote on offer at one of the major comparison sites (Moneysupermarket)—so while their customer service and ratings might be slightly lower than the top-ranked brand on our list (LV=), Churchill can be a solid option for those who prioritize price. Churchill policies can be purchased directly from the company or through many comparison sites (but not yet via our partner, QuoteZone). Churchill is one of the "budget" brands of the Direct Line Group. Direct Line is the second-largest car insurance company in the UK, and 28.1% of their premiums are sold under the Churchill and Privilege brands via the price comparison website channel.
Churchill is also well known for its affordable DriveSure telematics insurance policy, which was designed to help young drivers to drive safely and lower their premiums.
Civil Service Insurance Society (CSIS) is a specialist provider for people in the civil service. Of all the insurers considered for the list, it had the best overall customer experience rating. Policyholders report that CSIS’s complaints handling process is outstanding, with a rating of more than 97% customer satisfaction. The insurer recently won a Times Money Mentor Gold Award for customer experience. One key feature of its car insurance products is the availability of interest-free monthly installments and no administration fees or charges.
Being a not-for-profit organization, CSIS donates all profits to civil and public service charities through its partner, the CSIS Charity Fund. In the last decade alone, the insurer has donated more than £7 million to various charitable institutions.
8. Bell Insurance
Black box car insurance is an innovation that is helping safe young drivers avoid being penalized for the risk profile of their age group (who are prone to having expensive accidents). Bell offers two levels of cover: third party, fire and theft, and comprehensive insurance. Plus you’ll only have to drive with the black box for the first six months of your first policy. Plus, Bell doesn’t impose mileage restrictions or curfews.
Designed to separate out the safe from the speeders, black box car insurance is aimed at less risky young drivers who might otherwise be tarred with the brush of the 17-25 age group. Rather than paying the premium for the higher likelihood of accidents, safe young drivers can install a monitoring device in their car to prove to an insurer that they drive responsibly, resulting in lower premiums.
With Bell, the black box is a simple plug-in device that will monitor your driving for the first six months of your policy, and your premium may be reduced upon renewal. Bell also promises not to raise the cost of your insurance if you don’t get a great black box score, although your premium will be raised if you go for renewal after the policy completes.
9. Age Co
Age Co is known for providing financial products and services for people over 50. It offers car and home insurance, financial services and funeral plans, and independent living solutions.
Age Co’s car insurance line is divided into insurance for the over 60s, insurance for the over 70s, and insurance for the over 80s. Customers can purchase comprehensive, third-party fire and theft, or third-party only coverage.
Available benefits of Age Co’s car insurance policies include a message relay service that allows policyholders to contact a friend or family after an accident, coverage for permanently fitted audio equipment, a Get You Home service, unlimited windscreen cover, motor breakdown cover, and European cover for up to 180 days annually. It also has optional key protection, excess protection, and motor legal protection coverage.
10. Dial Direct
Dial Direct is a broker that consults a panel of leading UK insurers to offering quality insurance at affordable prices while providing excellent customer service via its UK contact center.
Its car insurance comes with a range of benefits as standard, and it also offers home insurance and van insurance.
Dial Direct is a trading name of BISL Limited. The company is part of the BGL Group, which also owns Budget Insurance and Junction.
Dial Direct provides comprehensive cover only on price comparison websites which comes with a range of standard and additional benefits.
Dial Direct offers a number of benefits for comprehensive policyholders, including:
- RAC Roadside Recovery.
- Uninsured driver cover to protect your no claims discount and waive any excess fees if an uninsured driver hits you.
- Expenses for transport or one night’s accommodation if you can’t continue your journey after an accident.
The top 10 leading car insurance companies in the UK
(Ranked by Bought by Many)
1. Direct Line
4. John Lewis Finance
8. Bell Insurance
9. Age Co
10. Dial Direct
How to make a complaint about a UK car insurance company?
If you feel you have been unfairly treated by a UK car insurance company and want to complain, you should follow these steps:
-write a letter of complaint to your insurance company. They will then have eight weeks to resolve the complaint and inform you of their decision;
-if you are not happy with the decision, you can take the complaint to the Financial Services Ombudsman. You could be awarded compensation up to £150,000 if the complaint is upheld;
-if you are still not happy, you can take the complaint to the Small Claims Court. It’s unusual for this court to rule differently than the Ombudsman, so you should be sure that you have a legitimate grievance before pursuing this.
Cheapest car insurance companies in the UK
To find the cheapest car insurance available in the UK, you should ran quotes from a selection of leading comparison sites such as: Comparison websites such as Go Compare, Confused and MoneySuperMarket.
Cheapest Money Supermarket quotes
On Money Supermarket , the cheapest quote was with Admiral, with an annual premium of just £263.20. This policy included a £150 compulsory excess and a £250 voluntary excess. Personal injury, windscreen cover and a courtesy car were all included as standard. Breakdown cover was available as an optional extra from £44.95 and legal cover was available for an additional £24.95. Elephant and Diamond — subsidiaries of the Admiral Group — were close behind with all the same cover for £264.32 and £265.44 respectively.
Cheapest GoCompare quotes
On GoCompare, the cheapest available quote was also from Admiral, this time for £290.08. This policy included a £150 compulsory excess and a £250 voluntary excess. Personal injury cover and a courtesy car were both included as standard.
Cheapest Compare the Market quotes
On Compare the Market, Admiral again came in as the cheapest insurer with a quote of £322.56 for an annual premium. This policy included a £150 compulsory excess and a £250 voluntary excess. Personal injury cover and a courtesy car were both included as standard. LV= was more expensive at £408.46 but had a cheaper compulsory excess (£100) and offered one of the cheapest options to add motor legal protection (£25.99 for the year).
Tips to get cheaper car insurance
Renew a few weeks ahead
Research by MoneySavingExpert has found that drivers can get the best quote for their cover 20-26 days before their existing policy ends or renews. This seems to be the sweet spot for people who are shopping around ahead of renewal. Some companies let you lock in a quote 30 to 60 days ahead of your renewal. If you find a good price you could save it and then check again 21 days before renewal and choose the quote that is cheapest.
It always pays to shop around and call your insurer to negotiate your price on renewal. Insurers can have a ‘standard’ discount that they will apply if you call them. It also may help if you’ve found cheaper quotes for the same level of cover from other providers, adding weight to your negotiation.
Comprehensive is often cheaper for experienced drivers
Some drivers have also found comprehensive policies are offered to them cheaper than third party cover because the insurer believes they will be less of a risk.
Some young drivers may find it's cheaper to get black box car insurance.
Get a multi-car discount
Many of the companies on our list of the best car insurers offer online or multi-car discounts, which can lower your premium for each vehicle. For example, every car added to Admiral's MultiCar policies gets an additional discount, and LV= claims its customers can save up to 20% by insuring multiple cars at once.
Choose a car in a low insurance group
One final element that affects the price of your cover is the group your car belongs to. Vehicles in Group 1 are usually the cheapest to insure, with premiums getting costlier the higher you go. You can learn more about car insurance groups in our in-depth guide.
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