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Revealed – the UK's 10 largest car insurance providers in 2022

Revealed – the UK's 10 largest car insurance providers in 2022 | Insurance Business UK

Revealed – the UK's 10 largest car insurance providers in 2022

The 10 largest car insurers in the UK underwrite more than 70% of the country’s auto insurance policies, with combined gross written premiums amounting to £11.3 billion in 2021. These companies also control 85% of the market, according to data gathered by personal finance research and analytics website NimbleFins.

But despite the auto insurance market being dominated by only a handful of leading industry players, the products, services, and benefits these firms provide vary significantly.

Read more: Revealed: UK’s top car insurance providers for customer satisfaction

To identify the leading car insurance providers in the UK, NimbleFins compiled data on each company’s GWP by sifting through SFRC regulatory reports, press releases, annual financial statements, and risk management reports. The website also gathered financial strength ratings from Fitch, Moody’s, and Standard & Poor’s (S&P) and looked at complaints data from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

Here are the top car insurance companies in the UK based on the firm’s research.

1. Admiral Group

Market share: 14%
Gross written premiums: £2.237 billion

Distribution channels: Own brands, price comparison websites
Car insurance brands: Admiral, Bell, Diamond, elephant.co.uk, Gladiator
Financial strength ratings: A (Fitch)

Car insurance specialist Admiral underwrites policies through its several brands, offering different levels of cover and benefits. Its comprehensive plan provides the greatest protection, which includes windshield, stereo, and child car seat cover, and replacement for vehicles less than a year old. The policy also gives extended coverage for policyholders driving across Europe for up to 90 days. 

Last year, Admiral released a series of car-related products, including policies for delivery drivers and couriers, and a low-cost plan sold through price comparison channels called Admiral Essentials. The insurer also launched the Admiral virtual assistant (AVA) aimed at addressing common questions and concerns from customers. Clients can likewise use the tool to update their policies, make a claim, or view any existing policy details.

“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,” NimbleFins noted. “Their brands can be found on most price comparison sites… and one of their brands may be amongst the cheapest available offers.”

Read more: Admiral to utilise car safety system data in motor insurance pricing

2. Direct Line Group

Market share: 10.8%
Gross written premiums: £1.73 billion
Distribution channels: Own brands, price comparison websites
Car insurance brands: Direct Line, Churchill, Darwin, Privilege
Financial strength ratings: A1 (Moody’s)

Direct Line provides car insurance policies with a solid set of standard features – including vandalism promise, used car replacement, and fair claim commitment – at reasonable price points. The insurer also boasts excellent customer service as reflected in its top 10 rating on the review website Trustpilot.

Direct Line holds a partnership with Volkswagen, providing short-term and annual policies for customers buying new and used cars from Volkswagen, SEAT, Audi, and Škoda dealers through its UK Insurance unit.

The insurer has recently shifted focus to digitalising its claims operations to make the experience faster and simpler for clients. It also invested £2 million in a new car technology centre to strengthen its efficient repair capabilities and launched cover for electric vehicles.

Read more: Direct Line Group hikes prices to restore margins

3. Aviva

Market share: 10.5%
Gross written premiums: £1.677 billion
Distribution channels: Own brands, price comparison websites
Car insurance brands: Aviva, Quotemehappy.com, One Call, General Accident
Financial strength ratings: Aa3 (Moody’s), AA- (S&P), AA- (Fitch)

Aviva is recognised as one of the top multi-car providers in the UK, offering clients up to a 10% discount on premiums. The insurer also has a growing presence in price comparison websites, with its Quotemehappy.com brand boasting some of the cheapest rates. Additionally, Aviva has one of the highest Trustpilot customer ratings among the companies on the list.

Last year, the carrier expanded its personal lines motor insurance products, providing a range of protection for EVs, including roadside breakdown, electrical surges, and accessories coverage.

“Depending on where you live, Quotemehappy may be one of the cheapest prices you find for cover,” according to NimbleFins. “However, if you’ve had an accident in the past five years, you may receive a less favourable price from Aviva than you'd find elsewhere.”

Read more: Aviva reminds drivers not to throw caution to the wind

4. Hastings Direct

Market share: 7%
Gross written premiums: £1.112 billion
Distribution channels: Own brands, price comparison websites
Car insurance brands: Hastings, insurePink, People’s Choice
Financial strength ratings: A- (Fitch)

Hastings Direct offers flexible car insurance with several benefits, giving policyholders the freedom to add optional features, including enhanced personal accident cover, breakdown, motor legal expenses, and key protection. The carrier’s Hastings Essential car insurance – the cheapest of its product – can be accessed exclusively through price comparison websites, but it also offers Direct and Premium, which provides higher levels of coverage.

According to NimbleFins, Hasting Direct prides itself on having “simple and straightforward insurance” evident in its policy documents, which are “easier to understand than some of the competition.”

Hastings Direct continues to invest in digital capabilities as well, allowing customers to buy online and manage their accounts via a customer portal and app.

Read more: Hastings Direct wins against crash-for-cash fraudsters

5. AXA

Market share: 6.1%
Gross written premiums: £969 million
Distribution channels: Directly, outside brands, broker partners
Financial strength ratings: Aa3 (Moody’s), AA- (S&P), AA- (Fitch)

AXA sells auto insurance under its own brand. It also underwrites policies for several outside brands, including mypolicy.co.uk and By Miles, which offers pay-per-mile cover. The company provides standard coverage with a solid set of features and discounts, something that customers would expect from a large international insurance company. Among these are lifetime guarantee on repairs, 90-day European driving cover, and audio and navigation systems protection.

Read more: AXA offers insurance by the day

6. LV=

Market share: 5.8%
Gross written premiums: £932 million
Distribution channels: Directly, broker partners, price comparison websites
Financial strength ratings: As3 (Moody’s), AA (S&P)

LV=’s growth in the car insurance market can be attributed to its high renewal rates and new sales following the launch of its multi-car offering. The insurer also provides branded auto policies through LV= Broker’s Clear Car Insurance, which is offered by Volvo, Dacia, Hyundai, Jaguar, Kia, Land Rover, Mazda, MG, Mitsubishi, Renault, and Suzuki. These branded coverages are underwritten by LV=’s Highway Insurance Company.

“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,” NimbleFins noted. “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.”

Read more: LV= busts common myths on electric cars

7. esure

Market share: 4.2%
Gross written premiums: £679 million
Distribution channels: Own brands
Car insurance brands: esure, Sheila’s Wheels
Financial strength ratings: N/A

esure offers comprehensive policies featuring courtesy car coverage and a five-year guarantee on repairs done through its network. Policyholders can also access a 10% discount if they take out a multi-car plan.

“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 Defaqto 5 stars for including features such as a courtesy car, windscreen cover, and personal injury on their comprehensive policies,” according to NimbleFins. “Their Trustpilot score has also risen noticeably in the past year.”

Read more: esure sniffs out motoring fraud

8. RSA

Market share: 4.1%
Gross written premiums: £661 million
Distribution channels: Directly, outside brands
Car insurance brands: More Th>n
Financial strength ratings: A2 (Moody’s), AA- (Fitch)

RSA sells auto insurance policies through its More Th>n brand. Among the key features of its comprehensive plans are wrong fuel, courtesy car, personal accident, and windscreen cover, uninsured driver promise, and 24/7 emergency assistance. The insurer also underwrites policies for other brands, including Clydesdale Bank and ingenie.

Read more: RSA: More work for industry to do on driverless cars

9. Ageas

Market share: 4.1%
Gross written premiums: £654 million
Distribution channels: Directly, broker partners, price comparison websites
Financial strength ratings: A+ (S&P), AA- (Fitch)

Apart from selling its own car insurance, Ageas administers policies for Age Co and holds partnerships with Sainsbury’s Bank, Co-Op Insurance, Marmalade, and GoShorty. It boasts one of the higher Trustpilot ratings on the list, mostly because of the digitalisation of its claims process. According to NimbleFins, this has shortened motor approval requests from between two and three hours to two to three minutes.

Read more: Ageas to use AI to assess car damage within minutes

10. NFU Mutual

Market share: 3.9%
Gross written premiums: £626 million
Distribution channels: Directly
Financial strength ratings: N/A

The only mutual insurer on the list, NFU Mutual is known for great customer service as reflected by its low complaints rates with the FOS. The company does not provide quotes online and instead serves customers through its more than 300 offices nationwide. A network of over 650 agents and a UK-based call centre handle quotes, questions, and claims.

“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,” NimbleFins explained.

NFU Mutual members can also get a discount on new cars with several manufacturers, including Audi, Fiat, and Ford.