Why are these the best car insurance companies?
To inform our decision, we’ve collected the latest information about nearly 50 car insurers from independent expert review site Fairer Finance. Rather than rate these companies on price (buyers can use price-comparison sites like Go Compare for this), we used expert research to determine the quality of both the cover and service provided by each provider. The key metrics we considered were:
The level of coverage offered by each insurer’s best car insurance product (represented by a ‘Product Rating’ out of 5). We selected only insurers whose Product Ratings for their highest level of coverage was at least 4 out of 5.
Each insurer’s Customer Experience rating (out of 100), an aggregate of scores for customer happiness, trust, transparency and complaints handling. We only selected insurers with a Customer Experience rating of 60 or above.
Additionally, we only considered insurers who could offer the following: At least £500 cover for lost keys Courtesy car for the duration of repairs New car replacement A windscreen repair excess of no more than £25 The insurers that scored the highest across these metrics have been featured in our ‘Best Insurers’ list above. We’ve excluded two high-scoring companies, due to the restrictions placed on the cover they provide. BMW Insurance caters almost exclusively to drivers of BMW vehicles, while Toyota Car Insurance seems to primarily cater to Toyota owners. Check out our detailed reviews at the bottom of the page for more information on the individual providers. Looking for breakdown cover? Check out our definitive list of the best breakdown companies instead.
What makes a good car insurance policy?
There are several factors you should consider when looking for car insurance; doing so will help you see past prices and better understand the true value that different providers can offer you.
However, unlike other insurance lines (which might have one key element of cover that differs between providers), the core coverage with car insurance is almost identical between different insurers. For example, pet insurance often has a vet fee limit that varies from provider to provider, while travel insurance can have medical cost limits that differ by millions of pounds, but car insurance is largely confined to three levels of cover that are standard across the board: comprehensive, fire and theft, and third-party cover.
This means that consumers will need to look at other policy features, reviews and price to make a decision.
Not all policy features we’ve highlighted might be relevant to you but they’re a good guide to start with. Others might be things like vandalism cover, cover for medical expenses or a fair claim commitment.
It’s also worth looking at review sites to see the experience of other car owners and whether their claims are being paid in a reasonable time.
And unlike other insurance lines — where you often get what you pay for — factors like price and rewards (such as Nectar points) might play more of a role in deciding which company is best for you.
Here are some key things to look out for: Levels of excess The excess is the amount you need to contribute towards a claim before your insurer will cover the rest. Some cheaper policies come with a high level of excess, which can be costlier than paying a higher premium. You can mitigate these costs by insuring your excess.
Windscreen cover Pays for your windscreen to be repaired or replaced if it gets damaged. It’s included as standard with premium insurers such as John Lewis, but you’ll have to pay extra on most cheap policies.
Driving multiple cars Many people assume that if they have comprehensive insurance they are automatically covered to drive other people’s cars, but that is not necessarily the case. Read the terms of your policy carefully to make sure you are insured for driving cars other than your own.
Accelerated No Claims — Some companies offer what they call Accelerated No-Claims. This means you can claim a 12-month no claims discount after only 10 months on the road. However, the catch here is that often this only applies if you stick with the company for another year. For some, this will work out well, but it’s worth doing your research. In most cases, loyalty is not rewarded when it comes to car insurance, so, even with the no claims discount, you may be better off elsewhere.
For other motor insurance, check out our guides to van and motorcycle cover.
If you’re buying a new car you may be interested in our guide to GAP insurance.
The best car insurance companies for customer service
CSIS is a specialist provider for people in the civil service. Of all the insurers we considered, 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. Additionally, CSIS recently won a Times Money Mentor Gold Award for customer experience.
John Lewis also ranked highly for its customer happiness rating and overall customer experience scores. Fairer Finance awarded it a high rating in its expert review, citing the brand’s high level of trustworthiness and strong customer happiness score.
Direct Line is another brand that has a good reputation for its customer service. It was awarded a Silver Ribbon by Fairer Finance for its strong complaints performance. It also performs well on user review sites; on Trustpilot, for example, Direct Line is rated 4.3 out of 5, with 64% of customers describing its service as ‘Excellent’.
The cheapest car insurance providers
Those seeking the cheapest annual premiums can get good deals on their car insurance, providing they’re content with certain features missing from their policy which may be available from premium insurers. You can find out the average cost of UK car insurance today in our guide.
To find the cheapest car insurance available in the UK, we ran quotes from a selection of leading comparison sites. We used a 2021 Vauxhall Corsa, as it’s a Group 1 car; the cheapest group for car insurance premiums. We searched for comprehensive cover for a 27-year-old male with a clean driving record living in the North West of England. The car was a five-door hatchback with an estimated value of £15,000.
Please note that we received these quotes in March 2021 and insurers frequently change their prices, so the company that is the cheapest when you run your own quotes may differ.
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).
Is cheap car insurance worth it?
While it’s often made clear what isn’t covered on a cheap car insurance policy, budget premiums can come back to bite in other ways. Many customers who have bought the cheapest policies claim they’ve been hit with extra admin charges and „surprise“ fees when trying to make a claim or change their car mid-contract.
Paying more for your car insurance can actually save you money in the long run. Comprehensive policies from big-name companies like John Lewis and Direct Line may have higher premiums, but could be better value over time because you won’t need to pay additional fees for things not covered on budget policies.
For example, More Than comprehensive car insurance policy includes personal accident cover of up to £5,000 and windscreen cover as standard, both of which are not typically included in cheaper policies. They’ll even cover the cost of replacing a child car seat if it’s damaged in an accident.
It’s also worth noting that cheap insurers typically have a poorer claims service, so when you do need to claim, it’s more difficult to get the compensation you need.
The pros and cons of car insurance comparison sites
With the rise in popularity of comparison sites, many people look for the cheapest price when choosing an insurance provider, believing it to be the best deal. However, that is often not the case. In reality, comparison sites come with several pros and cons.
The good: more competition — Comparison websites such as Go Compare, Confused and Money Super Market have brought positive changes for consumers. They’ve created competition between car insurance providers, resulting in prices coming down, and made customer reviews of the different brands more readily available.
The bad: more bad car insurance policies —
Car insurance companies NOT on comparison sites
You can find some of the best deals on car insurance by going directly to some insurers. Policies from these car insurance companies are not available on comparison sites:
Direct Line Car Insurance
Aviva Car Insurance
How to get cheaper car insurance
1. 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.
- Shop around
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 could save 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.