Compare Car Insurance

By | 2017-03-11

Most of us spend days and weeks searching for the right car, then simply buy the cheapest insurance policy possible. This is understandable, especially when premiums have now reached record levels; but price is just one part of the story.

If you ever have to make a claim, you may regret not having gone with a company that ultimately delivers more expertise and looks after you better for a slightly higher price.

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To help you find the right policy for you, we’ve rated the UK’s best 39 insurers, and list the top 25 across seven categories. Everything from ease of purchase via the Internet or over the telephone to how easily claims were settled was ranked.

Along the way we asked how friendly and helpful staff were when you ordered your policy, if they knew the terms and conditions inside and out, and whether they knew what to do when you needed to make a claim.

We also rated whether the insurer reached a settlement quickly, if it kept you up to date on the progress of the claim and whether you found it good value in the end.

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What all this amounts to is a full picture of every insurer, from the moment you visit its website to the point it closes a claims case.

The only question remaining is which insurer is right for you. But before we run down our top 25 providers, we’ve listed some industry stats that may prove helpful when shopping around for a policy.

How much is your premium?

Price is key for many drivers when buying insurance. With costs at record levels after the recent Insurance Premium Tax hike, plus rising repair bills, this is likely to matter even more in the future. Still, it’s good to see that the majority of drivers surveyed this year paid less than £300 for a year’s insurance, with most others not spending more than £500. But as our next chart shows, this may not all have been down to the initial quote on the insurer’s website or relayed over the phone.

If you asked for a discount, how much did you negotiate?

It never hurts to ask, and this especially applies when negotiating your insurance premium. As our results show, out of the drivers who asked their provider to come up with a lower offer, nearly 60 per cent got almost 10 per cent off.

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Equally impressive is the fact that nearly a third of drivers managed to get between 11 and 20 per cent reduced from their policy. Some persistent shoppers even managed to achieve a discount of more than 50 per cent, showing there’s plenty of wiggle room in premiums – all you have to do is keep asking for it.

How long did it take to settle a claim?

Nobody looks forward to claiming on insurance, but no matter who’s to blame, you want the matter resolved quickly and fairly. As our results show, this is where insurers can really set themselves apart.

While 45 per cent of cases were solved within three months, nearly a third took up to half a year to resolve. Worryingly, three per cent of drivers had to wait over a year for their insurer to reach a verdict. If this is a concern, pay attention to the speed to settle criteria on the right hand panel in our list of insurers. This will show you who has the right team in place to prevent you having to wait around.

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The best car insurance companies 2017
1. NFU Mutual – 92.71%

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Driver Power 2017 Best Insurance Companies – NFU Mutual

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When you steal first place in every major category in a customer satisfaction survey, how do you improve? Well, with 96 per cent of customers expressing an intention to renew, NFU Mutual is probably best off not changing a thing. Dig into the results, and there is one area where it could do more. The process of getting a quote online is a bit awkward and long-winded compared with the web specialists. But stick to the phone – or one of 300 local offices – and the experience is peerless. From helpfulness and staff product knowledge to informing you about claim progress and ultimate settlement, customer satisfaction is second to none.

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Would you renew your current policy? Yes 96% No 4%

Get a quote from NFU Mutual here
2. Royal & Sun Alliance – 90.78%

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Driver Power 2017 Best Insurance Companies – Royal & Sun Alliance

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Royal & Sun Alliance doesn’t quite have what it takes to see off NFU Mutual in our results, but feedback from its customers is very impressive in all respects. Those who buy online are clearly happy at the speed their orders are processed, and even more so by the ease of navigation – R&SA ranked highest in the survey in the latter category. The company also scores well for those dealing over the phone, picking up a third place overall for staff product knowledge. The great results continue when it comes to claims; R&SA is exceptional for keeping clients informed of progress, speed of settlement and the ‘overall’ claiming experience.

Would you renew your current policy? Yes 91% No 9%

Get a quote from Royal & Sun Alliance here
3. Zurich – 88.79%

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Driver Power 2017 Best Insurance Companies – Zurich

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Zurich takes third place thanks to blistering performances from its telephone staff. They ranked inside the top 10 in all areas, and scored an impressive fourth for product knowledge. Zurich really goes into overdrive for claims handling, though, coming second for speed of settling, third for helpfulness and fourth for keeping claimants informed. Throw in a third overall for value for money, and you quickly start to wonder how well the brand might have done if only it could sort its website, which drivers voted a poor 32nd for ease of navigation and 33rd for speed, bringing the ease of purchase score down to 12th place.

Would you renew your current policy? Yes 76% No 24%

Get a quote from Zurich here
4. Co-op Insurance Services – 88.30%

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Driver Power 2017 Best Insurance Companies – Co-operative

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It narrowly missed out on a podium spot, but Co-op Insurance Services can be proud of a great performance this year. It did well on the website front, ranking sixth for the overall ordering process, although customers report there’s room for a little more speed and links to better info. Telephone operators pull out all the stops, however, and are largely to thank for the company’s strong ease of purchase results, while a good score for value for money suggests most buyers were happy with the final quote. When it comes to making claims, CIS is said to be very quick to settle, although staff could be more friendly and helpful.

Would you renew your current policy? Yes 77% No 23%

Get a quote from Co-op Insurance Services here
5. M&S Bank – 88.24%

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Driver Power 2017 Best Insurance Companies – M&S Bank

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Marks & Spencer’s place in the top five suggests more people should pick up a car insurance leaflet while buying their office lunch. Judging by the responses, customers are very satisfied due to a slick website that’s quick and easy to use, plus claims handlers who score well across the board. The marks are great for overall claims, keeping drivers informed of progress, helpfulness and speed of settlement. Value for money is also perceived as good, and only the telephone order process lets M&S down a little. Scores for staff helpfulness and speed aren’t much better than average, but product knowledge is pretty impressive.

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Would you renew your current policy? Yes 71% No 29%

Get a quote from M&S Bank here
6. RIAS – 87.88%

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Driver Power 2017 Best Insurance Companies – RIAS

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The retail sister company of Ageas insurance, RIAS sells directly to customers. They tell us it’s doing it well, with none of the web-related categories – ease of navigation, speed of completion and information provision – attracting a ranking lower than fourth. This excellent approach to Internet commerce is not quite mirrored for callers; although RIAS scores well it only makes 26th in the league table for phone ordering. It’s back on track if you need to make a claim, with second places for the phone experience here, another second for helpfulness and a third for keeping customers informed of progress.

Would you renew your current policy? Yes 81% No 19%

7. Quote Me Happy – 87.26%

For an insurer called Quote Me Happy, 22nd place for value for money may not be the most fitting result, but the company does redeem itself elsewhere. For online process, speed to complete orders and useful info links, it’s ranked first overall. The praise continues over to the phone lines, with another first place for speed of processing orders, and a second for politeness and friendliness of staff. When it came time to making a claim, drivers told us they were kept well informed during the process, and although settlements could have been reached sooner, seventh place for overall claims satisfaction is impressive.

Would you renew your current policy? Yes 75% No 25%

8. Direct Line – 87.19%

The insurer with the big red telephone lives up to its promise with very high ratings for keeping drivers informed when claims are being processed, along with friendliness and helpfulness on the other end of the line. Speed to settle was another area where Direct Line ranked in the top 10, and as it achieved seventh place for value for money, drivers seem happy with the settlement figures as well as the cost of the policy. But where the brand needs to improve is in the way it sells its policies, with the ‘overall process’ slipping to 20th place for telephone callers. Product knowledge could be better, too.

Would you renew your current policy? Yes 83% No 17%

Get a quote from Direct Line here
9. LV – 86.97%

Driver Power 2017 Best Insurance Companies – LV

Liverpool Victoria has been in the insurance business since 1843, starting out selling life cover. For motor insurance, LV was ranked in the top 10 in everything from ‘overall process’ online to speed of processing and ease of navigation. Unlike some rivals, LV maintains this advantage on the phone, with top 10 scores for friendliness, speed and product knowledge. But the results slip a little when it comes to claims handling, with an overall claims satisfaction rating of 13th. You tell us LV is especially good at keeping you informed of claims progress and offering a positive caller experience. Value for money isn’t rated as high, though.

Would you renew your current policy? Yes 85% No 15%

Get a quote from LV here
10. SAGA – 86.96%

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Driver Power 2017 Best Insurance Companies – Saga

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Another specialist insurer, this time offering policies for the over-fifties. Saga can take pride in employing very capable staff who were said to be helpful across the board; it got good scores for helpfulness when making a claim, keeping drivers informed and speediness to settle. When it came to purchasing policies, you were most impressed with the ease of navigation on Saga’s website, ranking it third, while speed, availability of information and the overall ordering process online were all rated inside the top 10. Ordering by phone didn’t score so well, with processing speed and product knowledge ranked just outside the top 10.

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Would you renew your current policy? Yes 80% No 20%

Get a quote from SAGA here
Lowest ranked car insurance companies 2017
21. Allianz – 83.66%

Allianz is the world’s third largest financial services company, but despite its size and wealth, you tell us it needs to improve its website. Drivers criticise ease of navigation, the speed of online transactions and the information the website provides. This is a pity, because while the telephone scores aren’t exactly stunning, they’re far more indicative of the well run insurance business you’d expect a firm like Allianz to be. It scored much better for handling and settling claims, ranking 10th for speed to settle, plus owners told us they were kept up to date during claims. Value for money could have been better, though.

Would you renew your current policy? Yes 73% No 27%
22. Age UK – 83.30%

It’s a mixed bag of results for charity Age UK, a specialist insurer known for tailoring policies to drivers aged over 50. This older audience reports the website is hard to navigate, but scores it high when ordering by phone; it’s third best here. However, the halo slips somewhat if you subsequently need to ring up to make a claim, with the telephone experience ranked a low 27th. Friendliness and helpfulness also take a toll during claims, with drivers scoring Age UK 35th, while the speed it takes to settle claims is ranked only 30th against rival insurers. The value for money offered is in the top 10, though.

Would you renew your current policy? Yes 77% No 23%
23. Esure – 83.28%

Sir Peter Wood first helped to change the face of car insurance when he launched Direct Line way back in the eighties. He did it again by launching Esure as an online insurance platform in 2000. As befits an outfit created for the Internet, Esure scores very well in our survey for ease of website navigation and speed of ordering online, but those who took to the telephones had a far less happy experience. When making a claim, owners told us the insurer needs to be more friendly and helpful, giving Esure its lowest score, although the company was ranked better for speed to settle and value for money.

Would you renew your current policy? Yes 71% No 29%
24. More Th>n – 82.89%

More Th>n is the online trading arm of the Royal Sun Alliance, and was created in 2001 as a web-friendly brand. It’s ranked 25th in our survey on value for money, but the company says its name reflects its desire to ‘go the extra mile’. The scores suggest otherwise, because owners ranked it 29th for keeping you informed during a claim. However, a 19th place for friendliness and helpfulness helped bring up the average. The same picture emerges when you’re buying the policy, where politeness and friendliness over the telephone were poor. The web experience was ranked slightly better, with ease of navigation praised.

Would you renew your current policy? Yes 75% No 25%
25. Elephant – 82.73%

Welsh-based insurer Elephant has been around since 2000, and claims to be the first UK company created to sell car cover online. That may be true, but Driver Power respondents rank it only mid-table, awarding the brand its lowest scores for value and ease of purchase. The claim process doesn’t seem that friendly or helpful, either, and while satisfaction with the website is reasonable, our feedback shows clear room for improvement on call handling. Elephant is better at keeping you up to date when processing claims, and while it’s not the fastest, other insurers will keep you waiting longer to settle claims.

Would you renew your current policy? Yes 79% No 21%

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