Wondering which car insurance companies dominate the UK market? We have the answers. While over a hundred companies sell car insurance in the UK, the 10 largest auto insurers make up around three quarters of the UK car insurance market. If you're considering buying from one of the top ten companies, check out our list to see who made the cut and read what's special about each of them.
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List of Top 10 Biggest UK Car Insurance Companies
|Rank||Motor Insurance Company||Motor Insurance Gross Premiums Written (£million)||Estimated UK Market Share|
|1||Admiral Group (including Admiral, Bell, Diamond, elephant.co.uk, Gladiator)||£1,805||11.28%|
|2||Aviva (Aviva, Quotemehappy, One Call)||£1,689||10.56%|
|3||Direct Line Group (including Direct Line, Churchill and Darwin)||£1,634||10.22%|
|9||esure (Sheila's Wheels, esure)||£619||3.87%|
|Top 10||£12 billion||~75%|
|Total UK Motor Insurance Premiums Written||~£16 billion|
Top 10 Biggest Car Insurance Companies UK
Of the top cheap car insurance companies in the UK market, many are household names and have mascots or jingles you'll recognise from their TV ads. However, each company offers customers quite different premiums, features and experiences. Here's what you should know about these companies before you decide which is best for you.
1. Admiral Group
The Admiral Group is the largest auto insurance company in the UK with around 11% of the motor insurance market, underwriting policies through their Admiral, Bell, Diamond, elephant.co.uk and Gladiator brands. Technically speaking, Admiral is the trading name of EUI Limited.
In 2022 Admiral kept their motor business flat in terms of volume to protect margin, resulting in 5% higher profit than 2019 pre pandemic levels, but they are still the most popular car insurance company in the UK. Admiral insured around 5 million vehicles in 2022.
Also in 2022, Admiral continued with their new car-related products: carriage of goods for hire and reward, which provides the correct class of cover for customers who work as delivery drivers or couriers, and Admiral Essential, a lower-cost, lower-tier (i.e. fewer features) policy sold via the comparison channel. Additionally, Admiral launched the Admiral virtual assistant (AVA) for car insurance, to help customers self serve to address queries or make a change.
Quick Takeaway: Admiral can be a great auto insurance company for anyone who wants to arrange a car insurance policy quickly online and usually for a good price. Their brands can be found on most price comparison sites, such as our partner QuoteZone and one of their brands may be amongst the cheapest available offers.
- 4.4 out of 5 star Trustpilot customer rating
- Fitch rating: A
- Best Motor Insurance Provider in the Personal Finance Awards 2022/23
While Aviva's general, direct car insurance business lacks scale, they are trying to target multi-cover policies and grow through the price comparison website (PCW) market—and to great success because they've moved from the #3 spot in 2022 to the #2 spot in 2023. Depending on where you live, you may see their Quotemehappy.com brand with some of the cheapest rates on offer on PCWs. They also sell through their General Accident brand, making Aviva the third largest underwriter in the UK car insurance market. (And in 2020 the Aviva brand launched on UK price comparison websites as well.)
Aviva won the Customer Care Award at the 2023 British Insurance Awards and were Highly Commended by the Money Pages in their Best Motor Insurance category this year.
Aviva has one of the highest Trustpilot customer ratings out of the companies in the top ten.
Aviva expanded their personal lines motor insurance to offer new cover for electric vehicles, including roadside breakdown, electrical surges and cover for EV accessories. And they're not only big in motor insurance—Aviva is a full service financial services provider. In addition to general insurance, Aviva is a leading provider for savings and retirement products as well.
Quick Takeaway: Depending on where you live, Quotemehappy may be one of the cheapest prices you find for cover. However if you’ve had an accident in the past 5 years, you may receive a less favorable price from Aviva than you'd find elsewhere.
- Moody's rating: Aa3
- AM Best: A
- Fitch: AA-
3. Direct Line Group
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 around two thirds of their sales were direct to customers via the Direct Line brand, around one third of premiums are sold via the PCW channel. The group increased its presence on price comparison websites with the launch of the Darwin brand in 2019 as well as Churchill Essentials last year—a brand which consistently ranks as the cheapest offering of the big motor insurance providers.
Recently, Direct Line has focused on digitalising their claims operations to make the experience faster and simpler for customers. They also invested £2 million in a new car technology centre to strengthen their efficient repair capabilities (they own the largest insurer-owned garage network in the UK). And they launched a new electric vehicle offer for the Direct Line brand in 2021.
Gross written premiums dropped a touch in 2022, and the number of own brand in-force motor insurance policies dropped by 2.9%, with an overall reduction in in-force policies of 3.4% to 3.8 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).
While Direct Line underwrites home insurance as well, car insurance is their main line of business, accounting for nearly 50% of their gross written premiums.
Quick Takeaway: Direct Line has made a name as the insurance company that is not available on comparison sites, but if you're looking to save more money on your premium then their Churchill (or Churchill Essentials), Darwin or Privilege brands might offer even lower rates through price comparison websites.
4. Hastings Direct
Hastings Direct are a very popular car insurance company, with over 3 million live motor insurance policies in force and overall gross written premium growth of 15% year on year. They sell direct and via price comparison websites (PCWs). While the statistics are not available for the current year, back in 2018, 73% of Hastings premiums written to new car insurance customers were sold through the PCW market. And PCWs are the only way to buy the cheapest of their products, Hastings Essential car insurance. They also offer two higher tiers of cover (Direct and Premium), which can be purchased via comparison sites or direct from their website. Plus they have YouDrive (a black box plan) and Multi Car cover (providing discounts for households with between 2 and 4 cars), and a few additional brands (insurePink and People's Choice).
Hastings Direct continue to invest in digital capabilities, which means it's easier for customers to buy online and manage their accounts via a customer portal and app (which is highly rated with 4.6 stars in Apple's App Store).
We also like that Hastings Direct prides themselves on simple and straightforward insurance. This shows in their policy documents, which are easier to understand than some of the competition.
Note that Hastings Essential car insurance, while cheapest of their plans, has far fewer features—for instance, windscreen cover is not included and cannot be added, however legal and breakdown can be added for an extra charge (roughly £20 and £35, respectively). Those with a slightly larger budget who want more features should consider their Direct and Premier policies, which are not quite as cheap but have lower excesses and better coverage.
On 8 December 2021, Hastings completed its sale to Sampo, which also owns motor insurance companies in other countries in Europe (e.g. Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Baltic countries). Note that there's been a shift in the customer mix towards lower-risk customers, so higher-risk motorists may find Hastings has less appetite for their business than in previous years.
Quick Takeaway: If you're after good quality, affordable car insurance, then Hastings Direct is definitely a good company to consider. Not only that, but they have high customer satisfaction ratings at Trustpilot and Fairer Finance.
- S&P rating: n/a
- Fitch: A-
Liverpool Victoria is another very well-known car insurer, selling as LV=. LV= policies are available directly, through comparison sites or brokers. Recent growth in the LV= brand has been due to high renewal rates by existing customers and new sales following the launch of their multi-car offering. Customer satisfaction is a corporate priority, which goes to explain their high customer review rating on Trustpilot. LV is behind Volvo, Dacia, Hyundai, Jaguar, Kia, Land Rover, Masda, MG, Mitsubishi, Renault and Suzuki branded car insurance through Clear Car Insurance (LV= Broker), which is underwritten by Highway Insurance Company (part of the Liverpool Victoria group).
Note: at the end of 2019 Allianz completed their acquisition of LV General Insurance Group (LV GIG). LV= motor insurance policies are still underwritten by Liverpool Victoria Insurance Company Ltd, but ultimately this is now owned by Allianz.
Quick Takeaway: LV= is middle of the road when it comes to price, but we consider LV to be one of the best car insurance companies due to great customer reviews and features. In fact, they rated #1 in our study of the best, cheap car insurance companies. If you're after the lowest premium then LV= may not be for you; however for those looking for broader coverage LV= offers some extras with their comprehensive cover such as personal injury, uninsured driver promise (you won't pay an excess or lose your NCD) and misfuelling cover.
- S&P rating for Allianz: AA
- Moody's rating for Allianz: Aa3
In 2022 they sold over £1 billion in car policies, ranking them 6th in the list of largest car insurance companies—although they write even more in terms of home insurance policies. RSA is another company that underwrites policies for a significant number of other brands as well as their own. For example, RSA underwrites policies for Clydesdale Bank, ingenie and others.
Quick Takeaway: As one of the largest general insurance companies in the UK, RSA could be a decent choice for your insurance needs especially if you want cover for many aspects of your life from one insurer (e.g. car, home, pet)—however they were named as one of the worst for claims handling by Which? in 2019 and it appears they're exiting the market, which puts us off.
- 3.9 out of 5 star More Than Trustpilot customer rating
- AM Best: A
- Moody's rating: A2
- Fitch rating: AA-
We calculate that AXA is the 7th largest car insurance company in the UK, a drop from the previous year. A large international company, AXA sells policies under their own brand and they also underwrite policies for a number of other brands such as mypolicy.co.uk and By Miles (pay-per-mile cover). So if you have bought car insurance from a brand that doesn't underwrite their own policies, you may find that your cover ultimately lies with AXA.
Quick Takeaway: The company offers customers the standard coverage and discounts that you’d expect from a large international insurance company.
- 4.3 out of 5 star Trustpilot customer rating
- S&P rating: AA-
- Moody's rating: Aa3
- Fitch rating: AA-
8. NFU Mutual
Catering to drivers in rural parts of the country, NFU Mutual is quite a different offering than the other entries in the list of largest UK car insurance companies—they are owned by policyholders not shareholders and they don't offer online quotes but instead have over 300 offices nationwide, a network of over 650 agents and a UK-based call centre to handle quotes, questions and claims.
NFU Mutual is known for great customer service as indicated by the low complaints rates with the Financial Ombudsman Service. NFU Mutual's Trustpilot score has increased recently and we're not surprised by their high 4.7 star rating. NFU members can get a discount on new cars with certain manufacturers (e.g. Audi, Fiat, Ford, and more).
Quick Takeaway: If you would rather not buy your policy online but would rather discuss your policy with someone before buying then NFU Mutual can be a great option for car insurance. But if you want to buy online, you'll need to look elsewhere.
- 4.7 out of 5 star Trustpilot customer rating
- S&P rating: n/a
- Moody's rating: n/a
- Fitch rating: n/a
9. esure Group
The esure Group is a leading personal motor and home insurance company, selling through its brands Sheilas' Wheels and esure. To handle claims, esure employs over 700 specialists at its UK-based claims centres; they also manage a network of motor repairers that handles over 90% of their accidental damage claims.
Quick Takeaway: While esure is less competitive on price than some of the true budget options in the top 10 list, all of their policies are rated highly for features, including perks such as a courtesy car, windscreen cover and personal injury on their comprehensive policies. However, their Trustpilot score is less impressive at 3.3 out of 5 stars.
- S&P rating: n/a
- Moody's rating: n/a
Ageas is another well-known car insurer that you'll also see on comparison sites. They're focused on AI integration into the claims process and report that motor policy approval requests have dropped to 2-3 minutes from 2-3 hours and are available 24/7, resulting in a positive impact on on customer satisfaction levels. Perhaps as a result, Ageas has one of the higher Trustpilot ratings in the group and now insures 3.9 million personal motor customers in the UK.
Ageas paid out on over 99% of claims from August 2020 to July 2021. Policies can be purchased via brokers, affinity partners and direct distribution including PCWs. While Ageas used to be in partnership with Tesco to underwrite their Motor Legal Protection cover, they handed over the business to Tesco in May 2021. Ageas also administers policies for Age Co (formerly Age UK) and has developed new panel partnerships with Sainsbury’s Bank, Co-Op Insurance, Marmalade and GoShorty.
Quick Takeaway: Ageas is one of the top UK auto insurance providers and has relatively happy customers, but in our experience their rates are not as competitive making it less affordable for those looking for a cheap premium.
- 4.3 out of 5 star Trustpilot customer rating
- S&P rating: A+
- Fitch rating: AA-
Small vs. Big Insurance Companies
There are pros and cons of choosing either a small or large insurance company. For example, a smaller company might offer more personalised customer service (e.g., you might speak with the same agent each time you call). While dealing with a big insurance company like most of those in this top 10 list may feel impersonal, larger auto insurance companies generally have good financial stability.
Not only do the top insurance companies in the UK underwrite and pay claims worth billions of pounds every year, but they're often able to offer lower premiums by leveraging their resources. A small insurance company may be more likely to become insolvent, potentially leaving you without cover when you need it. While we can get an idea of a large insurance company's financial strength from S&P, Moody's and Fitch, these ratings agencies typically don't analyse smaller companies.
As a result it can be harder to understand the financial strength of a small company. That said, those who prioritise having a personal customer experience may still prefer a small company, which may be fine so long as you are comfortable with its financial situation. In the table below, we list financial ratings for the ten largest UK car insurance companies, reflecting available data from Moody's, S&P and Fitch.
|Car Insurance Company||Moody's Rating||S&P Rating||Fitch Rating|
|Direct Line Group||Baa1||n/a||n/a|
When deciding between a small or large car insurance company, keep in mind factors such as opening hours, coverage options and the range of policies on offer. For example, a small insurance company may have a more personal touch but you may have more difficulty reaching an agent, especially out of hours. The top UK insurance companies often have lines open at least some part of the weekend, which can be a big help for those unable to call during regular working hours.
Additionally, small insurance companies may not have as many coverage options or as wide a range of price points. For example they may be less likely to provide cover to an accident damaged car. If weekend availability or having discounts and a wide range of features is a priority for you, consider a large insurance company.
Mutual vs. Stock Insurance Companies
Another factor to consider is whether your insurance company is owned by shareholders or policyholders. Companies owned by stock holders are trying to maximize profits for their owners—a strategy that doesn't always align with what's best for policyholders. Mutual companies, on the other hand, are owned by the policyholders so the interests of the owners and customers is aligned.
NFU Mutual is the only policyholder-owned company in the top 10 largest UK motor insurance companies. A large portion of NFU Mutual's profits go towards reducing premiums for existing members, called a Mutual Bonus—in fact for 2020 they'd receive a discount between 11.5% and 16.5%, depending on how long they've been a member.
While looking at online customer reviews is one way to get a feel for the customer experience, it's also useful to look at official complaints made by customers with the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), as well as complaints data from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). However you can't just look at the raw number of complaints because, all else being equal, a larger insurance company will naturally have more complaints than a smaller one.
In order to compare companies on an equal footing, we first standardised FOS data by calculating the number of general insurance complaints per £ million of written general insurance premiums. As you can see in the table below, Hastings and Liverpool Victoria have the lowest rate of complaints according to this metric—0.38 and 0.49 complaints per £ million of written premium, respectively. LV also stood out for having one of the lowest complaints rates according to the FCA data (1.74 complaints per 1,000 policies in force), but Ageas topped the charts with the lowest complaints rate according to the FCA metric, at 0.92 complaints per 1,000 policies.
The worst performing according to FCA metrics were AXA and Hastings, with 6.82 and 12.24 complaints per 1,000 policies in force, respectively.
|FOS: General Insurance Complaints 2021||2021 UK General Insurance including Motor (£million)||FOS: Complaints per £Million Premium Written||FCA: Insurance Complaints per 1,000 Policies in Force|
|Ageas Insurance Limited||1042||£654||1.59||0.92|
|Liverpool Victoria Insurance Company Limited||456||£932||0.49||1.74|
|Direct Line Group||2277||£1,730||1.32||2.5|
|Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc||1039||£661||1.57||2.6|
|Admiral Insurance Company Limited||1259||£2,237||0.56||2.71|
|Aviva Insurance Limited||2113||£1,677||1.26||5.19|
|AXA Insurance UK plc||2058||£969||2.12||6.82|
|Hastings Insurance Services Limited||428||£1,112||0.38||12.24|
In order to establish a list of the top ten motor insurance companies in the United Kingdom, we gathered data on gross written premiums by reading through SFRC regulatory reports, press releases, annual reports and risk management reports for each company. In all but one case, we used the SFRC data on gross premiums written for motor vehicle liability insurance and other motor vehicle insurance in order to determine the amount of motor insurance business a company wrote. For one company, Hastings, we were unable to use their SFRC data because it reflects data for motor insurance premiums written in other European countries by Sampo (who owns Hastings), not simply the UK Hastings business. As a result, in that case we used gross written premium data from Sampo's annual report. Note, that there may be reporting discrepancies between the SFRC reports and the gross written premiums listed in annual reports.
- Trustpilot reviews of RSA reflect the More Than brand.
- SFRC reports reflect all motor insurance, not just "cars"
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