Aviva vs Direct Line: Compare Car Insurance

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Is Aviva or Direct Line the better solution for you? This in-depth, feature-by-feature breakdown by the NimbleFins car insurance experts will help you select the best car insurance for you and your wallet.

The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.

According to a 2024 study by the NimbleFins car insurance experts, Direct Line and Aviva are two of the largest car insurance companies in the UK, ranking #2 and #3, respectively, for premiums written last year. Not surprisingly, both come with many 'must-have' features, but they do not offer equal products. The NimbleFins car insurance experts have compared each company's standard car insurance policy to help readers trying to decide which might be the best product for their needs.

Quick Overview: Aviva vs. Direct Line Car insurance

The NimbleFins car insurance experts have compared the policy wordings for the Aviva and Direct Line car insurance products, identifying how they differ. To decide between these two well-known brands, it's best to understand what they offer (and what they don't)—then decide which suits your needs best.

It's important to note that the Aviva brand has one main tier of comprehensive cover (although they also sell an online-only brand called QuoteMeHappy) and the Direct Line brand has three tiers of cover ('Essentials', standard and 'Plus'). We are primarily comparing Aviva's product against the standard Direct Line product, although we may mention coverage on the other Direct Line tiers where it may be helpful.

Note: one noticeable change we noticed in Aviva's policy is an improvement in the cover for alternative transport & hotel after an accident. Aviva has increased their cover from £150 up to £500 max. For comparison, Direct Line includes onward travel in the standard and Plus plans, but not Essentials.

What we like about Aviva

Aviva, rated 4.3 out of 5 stars by our editors, is superior to Direct Line for the following notable reasons:

  • Cheaper cancellation fee: Aviva's cancellation fee is £38 + gov IPT, instead of Direct Line's £48.16 (after cooling off period).
  • Higher key cover: Cover for replacement locks if keys stolen or lost up to market value of car (vs £1,000 max with Direct Line standard and Plus).
  • Longer workmanship guarantee: Aviva guarantees the work carried out by an approved repairer for life, as long as you own the vehicle (Direct Line gives 5 years).
  • Permanent electronic equipment cover: Up to market value of vehicle for permanently fitted equipment (max £1k for Direct Line standard cover if not part of original spec).
  • Better Trustpilot Rating: Aviva has a Trustpilot rating of 4 out of 5 (vs. 3.8 for Direct Line).

What we like about Direct Line

Direct Line, rated 4.0 stars by our editors, provides superior coverage for the following features:

  • Courtesy Car Cover: Aviva requires an add-on to cover this feature, Direct Line includes this feature in the case of repairs on all tiers of cover. And also provides a courtesy car for total loss and theft on the standard and Plus policies.
  • Portable electronic equipment: Direct Line arguably covers removable electronic equipment like portable satnav devices better (up to £1,000 on the standard plan and £2,000 on Plus) vs Aviva who include cover for these within personal belongings cover (max £150).

Here's a quick, high level comparison of how the standard Direct Line and Aviva comprehensive policies compare on cost, features, customer service access and customer ratings.

Car Insurance ComparisonAvivaDirect Line standard plan

Cost
More expensive for our sample driverLess expensive for our sample driver

Superior Features
  • Cheaper cancellation fee
  • Higher key cover
  • Longer workmanship guarantee
  • Better aftermarket, permanent electronics cover
  • Better Trustpilot rating
  • Courtesy car cover for repairs (all policies)
  • Courtesy car for theft/write off (standard and Plus only)
  • Better portable electronics cover

Customer Service Access
Webchat and phones lines open 7 days a week, including bank holidaysWebchat and phones lines open 7 days a week, with webchat open significantly later in the evening than Aviva

Customer Ratings
  • Trustpilot 4 out of 5
  • FOS Complaint Rate 3.56
  • Trustpilot 3.8 out of 5
  • FOS Complaint Rate 4.5

Table of Contents

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Aviva vs Direct Line Overall Review

Direct Line and Aviva are both solid options for those wanting to insure their car. Both insurance companies have similar customer review ratings.

However, as we can see below, there are coverage differences.

Most notably when it comes to policy on courtesy cars. Direct Line's comprehensive cover will provide a courtesy car in the case of repairs for all policies, plus for total loss or theft on the standard and Plus plans. Whereas with Aviva's comprehensive cover, you must buy an add on to get a courtesy car for any situation. A courtesy car is seen as a "should have" (loss or theft) and "must have" (repairs) policies according to Money Advice Service.

And while both have good cover for damage or theft of permanently-fitted electronic equipment, Direct Line arguably covers removable equipment like portable audio or satnav devices better with a limit of up to £1,000; on the other hand, Aviva include cover for these devices within personal belongings cover that is subject to a limit of only £150. But for permanently fitted equipment not part of the original car spec Aviva is better because Direct Line caps that cover at up to £1,000.

Now, Aviva allows for a higher total coverage for alternative transport & hotel after an accident, e.g. providing a taxi to take you and your passengers to a destination or to pay for one night in a hotel if necessary. Aviva covers up to £500 for overnight accommodation or public transport while Direct Line will pay up to £250 on the standard plan (£300 on Plus, no cover on Essentials plan).

Direct Line also has more breakdown options at the lower end of the cost scale. Direct Line will provide individuals with breakdown cover starting at £25 with their rescue package and going all the way to £100+ with their Euro Plus package. Whereas, Aviva's breakdown coverage starts from £45.62 (according to a quote we gained later during our cost comparison).

Here is an overall of some important features, and how Aviva and Direct Line's standard comprehensive car insurance policies compare:

How Do Aviva and Direct Line Comprehensive Car Insurance Compare?Does Aviva Deliver?Aviva Comprehensive CoverageDoes Direct Line Deliver?Direct Line Comprehensive Coverage
"Must Have" Features
Windscreen
thumbs up
Included (subject to stricter limits if you don't use an approved repairer)
thumbs up
Included
Belongings
red x
Up to £150
thumbs up
Included but amount of coverage varies £250
Keys
thumbs up
Cover for replacement locks if keys stolen or lost
thumbs up
Covered for damaged, lost or stolen keys (up to £1000). Stolen keys must be reported to police. Loss of earnings are not covered.
Protected NCD
thumbs up add on
If you buy the add on
thumbs up add on
If you buy the add on and have at least 4 years NCD with no more than one claim in past 3 years for all drivers combined
Car recovery after accident
thumbs up
Included
thumbs up
Included
Courtesy car (repairs)
thumbs up add on
If you buy the add on
thumbs up
Included (for duration of repairs with approved repairer, else up to 21 days)
Repairs guaranteed (if use approved repairer)
thumbs up
Lifetime while you own vehicle
thumbs up
5 years
"Should Have" Features

New car replacement
thumbs up
Included
thumbs up
Included
Stereo and satellite nav
thumbs up
If permanently fitted to your vehicle
thumbs up
Unlimited cover for equipment part of original car spec, up to £1,000 otherwise
Alternative transport & Hotel after accident
red x
Up to £500 for overnight accommodation or public transport
thumbs up
Taxi to take you and your passengers to one destination; one night in a hotel if necessary up to £250
24-hour emergency helpline
thumbs up
24 hour claims lines
thumbs up
Included
Courtesy car (total loss or theft)
thumbs up add on
If you buy the add on
thumbs up
Up to 21 days
Motor legal expenses
thumbs up add on
If you buy the add on
thumbs up add on
If you buy the add on
Breakdown cover
thumbs up add on
If you buy the add on
thumbs up add on
If you buy the add on
"Could Have" Features

Same cover in EU
thumbs up add on
Add on available if you call at least two weeks prior
thumbs up add on
Up to 90 days, if you pay an extra premium
Child car seat replacement after accident, theft, fire
thumbs up
Included
thumbs up
Included
Larger/premium courtesy car
thumbs up add on
If you buy the add on
thumbs up add on
If you buy the "Guaranteed Hire Car Plus" add on (while car being repaired if use their Approved Repairer; up to 21 days if you use your own repairer)
Uninsured driver NCD protection
thumbs up
Included
thumbs up add on
Included
Cancellation fee
thumbs up
£0 cancellation fee during cooling off period if cover has not started; otherwise £38
thumbs up
£48.16 after cooling off period; no extra fee during 14-day cooling off period and no fee for mid-term admin changes

What could each company do better on an absolute basis in terms of features? Below we've listed some features that each company could improve upon.

What we don't like about Aviva

  • No courtesy car cover included as standard (add-on required)
  • Lower limit for portable electronic equipment
  • Need to arrange cover for EU ahead of time and pay extra

What we don't like about Direct Line

  • Customer service doesn't work bank holidays
  • Lower customer experience scores
  • Need to arrange cover for EU ahead of time and pay extra
  • Lower key cover
  • Shorter workmanship guarantee

Alternative Plans Aviva and Direct Line Provide

Both Aviva and Direct Line, as most car insurance companies do, offer a Third Party, Fire and Theft (TPFT) policy. Of course, these policies have a lower level of cover than the comprehensive policy, because they don't cover accident damage to your vehicle and may have fewer other features.

Direct Line also sells a more budget 'Essentials' plan and a more premium 'Plus' policy. However, these offer different things.

Temporary car, van and business use insurance is also available from both Aviva and Direct Line.

Aviva vs Direct Line Cost Comparison

According to our test case, Direct Line's comprehensive and comprehensive Plus policies both charge lower premiums than Aviva's comprehensive policy. Not only that but Direct Line offers the protected NCD feature at a lower fee than Aviva—by quite a way. That seems to imply Direct Line is better value. However, quotes will vary, and Direct Line could be more expensive for other driver and vehicle profiles. Make sure to get your own quotes before making a decision.

What Policy?AnnualMonthly
Aviva Comprehensive£372.00£33.02 (10 payments, £62 deposit)
Aviva Protected NCD£45N/A
Direct Line Comprehensive£302.98£27.77 (10 payments, £50.48 deposit)
Direct Line Comp Plus£352.82£32.34 (10 payments, £58.82 deposit)
Direct Line Protected NCD£19.60£1.81

The quotes above are for a 47-year-old female living in the outskirts of London, driving a 2015 Ford Fiesta 8,000 miles a year that she parks at home. They have no convictions and have 8+ years of no claims.

Aviva vs Direct Line Reviews and Ratings Compared

Review SiteAviva RatingsDirect Line Ratings
Trustpilot4 out of 53.8 out of 5
FOS Complaint Ratio3.564.5

Aviva vs Direct Line Cancellation Fees Compared

When Are You CancellingAvivaDirect Line
During cooling off£0 or (if cover has started) £38£0
After cooling off period£38£48.16
Mid-term admin changes£0 (online), £18 (over Phone)£0

Fees will also incur Insurance Premium Tax.

Important Phone Numbers

As you can see in the table below, Aviva and Direct Line customer service telephone hours are roughly comparable, both being open 7 days a week. However, Direct Line telephone lines are closed on bank holidays.

Webchat hours, however, are noticeably longer for Direct Line. Motorists who might need to contact customer service during regular working hours might prefer Direct Line for this reason.

Opening HoursAvivaDirect Line
Customer Service (Mon-Fri)8am-8pm8am-9pm
Customer Service (Sat)8:30-5pm9am-5pm
Customer Service (Sun)10am-4pm10am-5pm
Customer Service (Bank Holiday)10am-4pmN/A
Webchat (Mon-Fri)Mon-Fri 8am-8pmMon-Fri 8am-11pm
Webchat (Sat)Sat 8:30-5pmSat 9am-9pm
Webchat (Sun)Sun 10am-4pmSun 10am -9pm
Emergency Hotline24-hour24-hour

Aviva Contact Numbers

Car insurance customers can reach Aviva customer service 7 days a week, on Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm and Saturdays 9am to 3pm and Sundays from 10am to 2pm and bank holidays 10am to 4pm. Find their numbers aviva numbers.

Direct Line Contact Numbers

Online access to your account and 24-hour availability are key factors for many people these days. While customer service is only open during typical business hours (Weekdays 8am-9pm, Saturday 9am-5pm, Sunday 10am-5pm), the emergency helpline is open 24 hours a day if you have an accident and need assistance. Find their numbers directline numbers.

There's also an online webchat feature which is open extended hours, on Mon - Fri 8am - 11pm, Saturday 9am - 9pm and Sunday 10am - 9pm. Finally, customers can access their account and make changes through the customer portal.

Direct Line Insurance Contact Numbers
New quotes or general enquiries0345 246 3761
Claims0345 303 1714246 8471
Help completing online quotes0345 835 3500
24 Hour Helplines
Accident recovery0800 269 015

Policy Documents

To read about the full details of an Direct Line policy, including what's covered and exclusions, read through the Direct Line car insurance policy documents here.

To read about the full details of an Aviva policy, including what's covered and exclusions, read through the Aviva car insurance policy documents here.

Erin Yurday

Erin Yurday is the Founder and Editor of NimbleFins. Prior to NimbleFins, she worked as an investment professional and as the finance expert in Stanford University's Graduate School of Business case writing team. Read more on LinkedIn.

Comments

The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.

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