Best car insurance companies 2013

Crashed car
24 Apr, 2014 3:08pm

Reader survey results reveal the best car insurance companies for you

One of the most expensive parts of car ownership is the cost of insurance, but when it comes to making a claim or settling a dispute having the best car insurance company behind you is important. It's not always the cheapest car insurance providers that are the best - and our survey results can help you decide which one to go for.

With the news earlier in 2014 that car insurance premiums have fallen by 14 per cent over the last year thanks to a more competitive market, it's even more important to choose your insurer carefully - some will offer different packages and benefits.

Best car insurance companies 2014

Tens of thousands of you voted in our survey of the top car insurers, rating them on communication, how long it took them to settle a claim, helpfulness and attitude, value for money and overall service. Your top 40 car insurance companies can be found in the list below.

In order to make sure the results are as accurate as possible, we only ranked car insurance companies that got a reasonable number of responses. The rankings include both insurers and brokers, as drivers were asked to rate who they dealt with when sorting out cover or making an insurance claim.

Cheapest cars to insure

Most people are happy with their current insurer, with 94 per cent of you telling us you’d use the same one again. It looks like it's been that way for a while, as only 27 per cent had been with their insurer for under a year – and 10 per cent of these were with LV Insurance, which seems to have gained lots of new business.

With 87 per cent of you telling us you shop around when renewal time appears, it's surprising to see those numbers. However, with 21 per cent of saying they couldn’t find a better deal and 43 per cent saving less than £50 by going elsewhere, it looks like sticking with certain insurers will pay off.

Accidental damage was the most common reason to claim on your insurance, making up a huge 90 per cent of the claims made by drivers taking part in the survey. In second place was vandalism, with just five per cent.

Claims seem to be taking longer than they used to, but 73 per cent of drivers got their claim settled in under two months. So which is the best car insurance company to use right now, and where does your current insurer place? Read on below to find out.

40. Diamond

Rock bottom – that’s where Diamond finds itself after sliding five places down the chart. And it’s difficult to blame any part of its service, as the company is criticised across the board. A number of motorists complained about errors on their policy, while one respondent told us they waited an unforgivable two years for a claim to be resolved. Communicating with Diamond seems to be a challenge for policyholders, too, while one disgruntled customer summed up the service by telling us: “Bit pricey and it made a mistake about the cost of the policy renewal.”

39. Swiftcover

Swiftcover plummeted down the Driver Power insurers chart this year, tumbling by nine places to become the second worst in our top 40. The company was slated in all areas, but policyholders were particularly critical of the speed in which it settled claims, while it fell a whopping 12 places in the overall service category. Many of you still reported that value for money was Swiftcover’s strong suit – although it’s clear that you get what you pay for here, with one customer telling us that the insurer is “cheap but difficult to contact”.

38. Highway

Highway managed a respectable 22nd position in our Driver Power 2012 chart. In fact, we even predicted it could be a contender for 
a top 10 spot within a few years. But this year, the company dropped 16 places, making it one of the biggest fallers. You reported issues in every category, but one of the most disappointing was a 24-place drop in value for money – this was Highway’s main strength last year. One customer summed up its weaknesses, describing the brand as “generally uncommunicative, expensive and with no discernible benefit for the expense”.

37. Hastings Direct

Having finished 12th back in Driver Power 2008, Hastings Direct takes another tumble this year, to 37th. The company’s best score last year was for value for money, and this continues to be a major strength and the most common compliment from policyholders. One customer described Hastings as the “cheapest policy for my needs”, while another called the premium “extremely competitive”. However, an impressive 12-place rise in this category was not enough to prevent a fall of three positions overall this year.

36. Chaucer

It's a disappointing rating for Chaucer’s first time on our Driver Power insurers’ chart. Weak points include the time it takes to settle claims and an unhelpful attitude, and if it wasn’t for average results elsewhere – for communication and value for money – this result would have been worse. You commended the price of its premiums and rated communication and overall service as mostly decent, with many customers saying merely “no problems”. Respondents just didn’t find much else to recommend this insurer.

35. AA

another below-par result for the insurance arm of the UK’s biggest breakdown operator in 2013 – and it’s now six years since the AA achieved a mid-table Driver Power ranking. This year, the company was especially let down by a nine-place fall in the rankings for speed in settling claims, while it was further hit by a five-place drop in the helpfulness and attitude category. One policyholder was particularly damning of the AA’s ability to deal with their needs, lamenting its “lack of customer service and attitude”.

34. Sheilas’ Wheels

It's been a rough few years for Sheilas’ Wheels. After finishing 12th in 2011, it fell 16 places in last year’s chart and has dropped another six this year. Your main criticisms came in the helpfulness and value for money categories, both of which saw seven-place drops. This year’s rankings are especially bad news, as Sheilas’ Wheels was rated eighth for value for money in 2011. A number of you criticised the cost as well as the service, with one customer saying: “I will not renew. They are unhelpful, discourteous, not value for money.”

33. Broker Direct

After debuting in an impressive 16th in last year’s survey, Broker Direct endures the biggest drop in Driver Power 2013, plummeting 17 places. It has experienced massive losses in all categories, falling 14 positions for communication and 12 for value for money. In fact, it’s dead last in the latter category. The company also had a dismal showing for speed in settling claims and in the attitude category, falling 24 and 23 places. Despite this, there was still some praise – one customer described the staff as “always helpful”.

32. Insure

This is the first time Insure has appeared in Driver Power, and it’s not exactly a sparkling debut. The brand recorded relatively mediocre scores for most categories, but the big news here is that it ranked 40th for communication. As one particularly unimpressed policyholder explained: “Customer service is awful. I can imagine if I tried to make a claim it would take years.” This really lets the side down, because most of you reckoned the company’s policies represent good value for money – so if Insure can communicate better, it’ll shoot up the chart.

31. Esure

Esure has retained its 31st place from 2012, although that’s nothing to celebrate if you look at where the company finished in previous surveys. Back in 2008 it reached the heights of seventh overall, and last year it tumbled five places to its current position. You tell us the company is getting slower at settling claims. The value for money ranking is down, too, although this is still Esure’s strongest suit. Responses included “excellent value for money” and “good value and good renewal price” – so price is clearly still the company’s saving grace.

30. Halifax

it’s a middle-of-the-road debut for Driver Power newcomer Halifax. The biggest negative for the financial giant’s insurance arm was a low score of 37 for communication. “Paperwork is a bit sloppy and I had to get the staff to correct errors,” one respondent informed us. However, Halifax received a relatively high score for value for money, which turned out to be its best attribute by far. As another customer told us: “I’ve had no problems and was quoted a reasonable price for the premium.”
29. More Than

The first insurer to have risen up the Driver Power chart in 2013 is More Than, after a general improvement across the board. You 
tell us the company is impressively fast at settling claims – this was its strongest suit last year, and it rose by seven places in 2013. Value for money took a hit, which is troubling as More Than placed 19th for value two years ago. Many criticised communication. One customer said: “Service is generally good, but overseas call centres can prove difficult.” Another added: “Hard to make your point; not a UK call centre.”

28. Privilege

Privilege has returned to its 2011 position in 28th place, falling in all categories except for overall service. The biggest change was a six-place slide in its speed at settling claims – which ironically was the company’s main strength in last year’s chart. And after rising four places for value for money in 2012, Privilege has fallen to 29th place this year. It’s not all bad news, though; respondents mostly felt that the company provided adequate service. “Good level of cover for a sensible price,” was one customer’s viewpoint.

27. Zurich Financial Services

Zurich was another big loser in this year’s list. The company’s biggest strength in 2012 was its speed at settling claims, but in 2013 this rating has plummeted by 16 places. You also tell us its overall service isn’t as good; the company falls 17 positions here. But the biggest drop came in the value for money category, where Zurich fell 18 places to 36th. “Very poor communication and slow to settle the claim,” complained one disappointed customer. And another said: “It took a long time to settle my claim after a smash caused by another driver.”

26. Churchill

Oh yes? Oh no. Churchill has fallen 12 places in this year’s Driver Power chart, and you say its speed at settling claims is largely to blame. The company dropped by 13 places in this category. But bosses won’t be happy to see that there was a dramatic decline across the board. A reasonable value for money ranking provides some consolation – even though most respondents described the service as average, Churchill’s prices were commended. Your comments ranged from “it does all that is required” to “premium seems reasonable”.

25. AXA

An average result for AXA for this year, but it does seems to be stabilising after jumping from 31st in 2010 to 20th in 2011. It slipped 
in all categories, though – especially speed in settling claims and value for money, in which it dropped six and four places respectively from last year’s rankings. Most of you lauded AXA’s reasonable value, though, with particular praise for its website. One customer described dealing with the company as “all done online with no fuss”, and another said: “I like the way AXA is a totally online (no paperwork) company.”

24. Swinton

Value for money proved to be Swinton’s Achilles Heel this year. In 2012, the company managed to shoot up to 25th position. This year, however, it has slipped back down to 34th place. Despite slight setbacks in its communication and ability to settle claims quickly, you still rated its helpfulness and attitude, plus overall service, as quite good. “Polite, courteous, friendly,” explained one satisfied customer, while another told us: “Staff always answer the phone quickly and deal with questions simply and honestly.”

23. Equity Red Star

In Driver Power 2012, Equity Red Star jumped 10 places from 25th to 15th, but all the good work seems to have been undone. Big falls in several categories are to blame – most notably 17 and 20-place drops in communication and value for money respectively. One customer said Equity was “hard to get hold of when you have questions”. Interestingly, you told us its speed in settling claims had improved – this had been a major weakness last year. If Equity wants to avoid a further decline, it has to pay close attention to the rest of its service, too.

22. Aviva

Aviva rose by six places in the Driver Power 2012 chart, so this year’s improvement of one position might not seem so impressive. It made slight gains in three of our judging categories, but rankings for its speed at settling claims and value for money fell by four places. However, further small improvements, particularly in helpfulness and attitude, could help the company move up to a place in the top half of the table in 2014. One customer was full of praise for the “helpful, honest approach of staff” at Aviva.

21. Tesco

Tesco remains in 21st position this year. It’s a reasonable result in isolation, but it doesn’t compare favourably to the performance of its supermarket rivals. Nevertheless, it managed to improve slightly in terms of overall service, plus there was no change in the insurer’s
value for money ranking. The most common compliment given to Tesco was for the price of its policies, although customers also praised
the improved service. One said: “I found Tesco insurance to be very good value for money, very helpful and easy to deal with.”

20. Direct Line

A ranking in the middle of our Driver Power 2013 customer satisfaction chart is generally no bad thing – unless you’re Direct Line, which was in the top 15 last year. Declines in all categories are to blame here, with the company’s communication ranking down by seven places. Even its biggest strength – its ability to settle claims quickly – takes a five-place hit. The value for money mark is still poor compared to the rest of its rankings, with customers reporting that it’s “very expensive” and “not the cheapest”.

19. Lloyds TSB

The biggest surprise this year is Lloyds TSB, which placed last in our Driver Power 2012 chart. The company seems to have taken to heart our advice to “overhaul every aspect of its service”, as it’s made big improvements in every category. Particularly impressive are jumps of 30 places for value for money and 23 places for overall service. There have been significant improvements in all other categories, too. Customers were impressed, with one saying: “I am pleased with the service I receive – it’s good value and the customer service is great.”

18. Adrian Flux

This specialist insurance broker has had a rough few years, as it’s now 10 places below where it was in Driver Power 2011. While Adrian Flux scores well for customer service, its ratings for value for money and ability to quickly settle claims continue to fall. However, you did approve of the quality of service for modified, performance and off-road cars, especially compared with other insurers. One customer said: “For specialist cars, they have proven excellent.” Another noted: “Decent price (compared to rivals) on performance cars.”

17. Prudential

After falling 11 places on last year’s list, Prudential is clearly back on the rise, with big improvements in several categories. The company gained seven places in the communication category and an impressive 12 in speed in settling claims. However, its value for money score is still quite poor. A common sentiment was that the Pru offers good service, but is a little too expensive. “Not the cheapest,” as one customer said. “But very efficient, fair and usually fairly quick but thorough with claims.”

16. Allianz

Allianz showed slight improvement in the communication, value and overall service categories. However, it slipped a bit in its helpfulness and attitude – this had been its biggest strength last year – as well as its ability to settle claims quickly. If the company can continue this steady improvement, it can expect another Driver Power rise. One customer praised the service and value for money, but not the claims process, saying: “Allianz offers good cover at a reasonable price, but needs to use another accident claims service or allow a choice.”

15. Sainsbury’s

Sainsbury's is on the rise, easily beating rival Tesco’s 21st place finish in our Driver Power countdown. The supermarket insurer’s gains in helpfulness and attitude, value for money and overall service should mean good things in the future, too. “Very helpful and competitively priced,” said one impressed customer, while another commented: “Very happy with the service it provides.” As long as the company manages to arrest its slides in the communication and speed to settle claim categories, it should do well in Driver Power 2014.

14. Marks & Spencer

Although M&S is still ahead of its supermarket rivals, this year’s performance suggests it’ll have to step up to stay there. The company fell four places overall, after dropping eight places in the speed to settle claims category and six places for value for money. Its helpfulness and attitude score continued its slide from 11th in 2011. While M&S is well ahead of Tesco, it’s only one place in front of Sainsbury’s. The overall service ranking is still good, with one customer describing the company as “friendly and helpful” and another praising its “very good service”.

13. Nationwide

Nationwide didn’t feature in last year’s Driver Power chart, but it has made quite an impact in 2013. It has entered at number 13 with some very solid rankings, faltering only slightly with 23rd place for its speed in settling claims. Indeed, customers thoroughly recommended Nationwide’s good value and service, describing it as “efficient and reasonably priced” and praising the “excellent value for money, considering the level of customer service”. Something solid for the brand to build on.

12. NatWest

Another newcomer in this year’s table, NatWest has made a splash with two top-10 rankings – one in the critical value for money category. In fact, ratings for communication and overall service were the only things preventing the company achieving an even higher overall ranking, and if it can boost its performance in those categories then it should be well placed for success in future Driver Power surveys. Customers praised NatWest’s “excellent service and value for money”, and one said it was “very competitive with its prices”.

11. Ageas

After a top-five performance in last year’s Driver Power insurers’ chart, Ageas has tumbled out of the top 10 in 2013. The only positive thing about this performance is that the brand’s still ranked this high, as it saw steep declines in every one of our judging categories. Ageas will have to make a major effort to avoid slipping even further down next year’s chart. You rated value as one of its worst attributes – one customer described it as “overpriced, a rip-off” – but others said the service was better.

10. Co-operative Insurance

While Co-operative Insurance has fallen slightly, it should be able to arrest the decline by focusing on its strengths. It saw no change in its ratings for helpfulness and attitude or overall service, but the Co-op’s speed in settling claims – its biggest strength last year – now appears to be a weak point. If the company lets things slip further, it’s unlikely to remain in the top 10, where it’s been for the past five years. Drivers did praise its service, though, with one saying “very friendly and helpful”, and another commending the “great customer service.”

9. Groupama

Groupama didn’t feature in last year’s Driver Power chart, but it has made quite a showing in 2013. Its only weakness was in the value for money category, where one customer criticised the “expensive premium”. But you commended its staff as “helpful and very experienced”. Another respondent was full of praise all-round, saying: “Perfect communications, competitive rates and fantastic at taking ownership when
a claim is required.” If Groupama can bring its costs down while maintaining the same level of service, it’ll be a force to be reckoned with.

8. RIAS

In 2012, RIAS dropped three places to sit outside the top three for the first time in six years. It has continued that downward spiral in 2013; in the previous Driver Power chart it had top-five finishes for communication and value for money, but this year both slipped to eighth. In the speed of settling claims category, it also fell five places, while a number of drivers were discontent with the service. One said: “Communication skills have been disappointing.” If the trend continues, RIAS could drop out of the top 10 next year.

7. John Lewis Insurance

John Lewis is this year’s highest-ranked new entry, with two fifth-place category finishes and three solid seventh-place ratings. It blows our other newcomers out of the water, as the second-highest new entry, Groupama, could manage only 17th for value. An impressed customer said: “Cover provided represents excellent value, and all communications are clear and easy to understand.” After such a strong start, don’t bet against John Lewis maintaining this quality and affordability to break into the Driver Power 2014 top five.

6. Liverpool Victoria

After dropping a place last year, Liverpool Victoria has returned to the sixth position it occupied in 2011. It’s improved in all our categories, with a notable five-place rise for the time it takes to settle claims. LV also finishes a superb third for value for money. One Driver Power respondent summed up its appeal perfectly, saying: “Very reliable and good value – when I’ve made a claim, everything has been settled quickly and hassle free.” However, the company trailed SAGA this year, after finishing ahead of its rival for the first time ever in 2012.

5. SAGA

Also turning back the clock to repeat its 2011 Driver Power insurers’ position is SAGA. It saw gains in all categories, but the real highlight was a seven-place increase in its ranking for speed in settling claims – the provider had posted its lowest score in this category last year. One customer described SAGA as “a fair company that listens to your questions and gives a good deal”. When SAGA dropped out of the top four for the first time in 2011, we predicted it could even fall out of the Driver Power top 10 – but it looks like bosses have turned things round.

4. Royal and Sun Alliance

In recent years, Royal & Sun Alliance seems to have yo-yoed up and down the top end of our insurers’ chart. It moved up from fourth in 2011 to third last year, but is now back down to fourth again. The company’s ranking for overall service remains the same, and it’s fallen by only one place across all the other categories. Customers say RSA has “always been polite and helpful” and praised the “excellent service, pleasant staff, realistic price”. Given the company’s progress over the past few years, a top three finish should be within easy reach again.

3. Adelaide IAM Surety

Another top performance from IAM Surety this year, and although it’s down one place on 2012, this is more due to the improvements made by this year’s number two than anything else. The brand offers cover to paying members of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, and has retained last year’s rankings (including a brilliant number one for value), plus gained a place for its speed at settling claims. Customers only had good things to say about IAM Surety, telling us the provider was “very reputable” and praising the “good value and excellent service”.

2. LV= Frizzell

We said Frizzell would have to make a big effort to relive previous Driver Power glories after it slipped to fourth last year. And it looks as though the specialist insurer for organisations and trade unions has done exactly that, improving across the board to reclaim the silver medal in our cover providers’ countdown. Nearly every customer’s review was glowing, with one describing Frizzell as “always competitive, very easy to contact and helpful” and another praising it for offering a “top-notch policy at a competitive price”.

1. NFU Mutual

And your top insurer is... NFU Mutual – yet again. Drivers are wowed by the local customer service and attentive staff, with one respondent praising the “excellent and helpful service from the local office”. NFU’s cover isn’t the cheapest, but many drivers tell us they like not having to talk to a call centre. Many also praised the company’s efficiency, whether it’s providing info on a policy or sorting a claim. “Probably the best in terms of product and service standards,” one happy user said. So NFU blows the competition away again.

• Best car insurance companies 2014

Disqus - noscript

Don't use NFU. They support the unnecessary cull of badgers.

NFU may be good, but they cherry pick based on post code. They have covered our neighbour's vehicle for some years but refused to quote us recently, based purely on post code - which is the same as our naighbour's, would you believe?

Correction to the comment below - the NFU (an industry association for farmers) and the NFU Mutual (an insurance company for anyone) are two entirely separate entities. The latter has no political function whatsoever. On the subject of insurance, it's achieved No.1 nine years in a row for a reason...

No mention of Elephant or Admiral? I'm with Admiral. Over the last few years my premiums have gone down, so I've stayed with them.

I had a run-in with Admiral who sent me an e-mail which said that as I didn't declare my 3 points they would double my insurance premium. Subsequent replay of the original telephone conversation with their customer service person showed that I did declare the 3 points and they also could not justify the doubling of premium based on 3 points. The previous year I was challenged about 3 points on my license that had expired and had to go through a 3 way conversation with the DVLC and Admiral for the DVLC to declare I had a completely clean license. I have now cancelled my policy with Admiral and moved to a company that treats its customers less like criminals.

AEX 1,339
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