Market update: Good news for those who want cheap car insurance—we’ve noticed more and more cheap car insurance offerings. Many of these have similar features to more expensive offerings, and many are new “tiers” or brands from top car insurance providers. This means you may not need to compromise on what you want even if you go with a cheap quote.
To find which car insurance companies are best (and worst) for customer service and features, we’ve dug into policy wordings and customer reviews to show you how some of the cheaper UK car insurance brands compare. We’ll also point out some great ways you can save money on car insurance.
Every year NimbleFins compares dozens of the best, cheap UK car insurance brands for price, ratings and reviews, so you can easily compare the best car insurance companies and get the cheapest price for you. While no single insurance provider is the cheapest or best for everyone, some companies stand out for their combination of good customer reviews, features and cheap quotes.
Table of Contents
- Compare car insurance quotes
- Compare rates by age
- Compare for drivers with accidents and convictions
- Top 10 best-rated cheap car insurance companies UK
- Reviews: editor insights on these car insurance companies
- How to compare car insurance quotes
Compare Car Insurance Quotes
NimbleFins found that AXA, Direct Line and LV= tend to be the three large, national insurance companies that offer the cheapest car insurance quotes on average in our tests; this was typically through their “cheaper” brands like Swiftcover (AXA), Churchill Essentials (Direct Line) and LV= (with their new “flow” tier). Your prices will vary, depending on where you live, the car you drive, your driving history and other factors. Prices can even change from week to week. Here were the cheapest quotes we found for our sample driver this week for comprehensive insurance from the big providers we tested.
Compared to one week ago, most of the companies in our study have held or slightly raised their prices; the exception was Hastings, which raised their price by £22 for our sample driver. Admiral was a few quid cheaper this week. And interesting, it seemed that Aviva’s regular policy was cheaper than its online-only QuoteMeHappy policy. On average across these companies, our sample driver was quoted £488. In the past month, prices have risen 1.2% on average.
Cheapest Car Insurance Companies
You may have noticed that car insurance prices are rising. In fact, the ABI has been tracking average prices paid since 2012 and from April to June 2023 motorists paid the highest rates since tracking began. You can read more about that in our article all about car insurance costs.
Comparing car insurance companies is the best way to find cheap quotes. Prices can vary from one company to the next, depending on how an insurer views your age, car make and model, driving history, post code, and other factors. This means a car insurance company that is cheap for your friend or neighbour might not be cheap for you. See our methodology section to learn about the driver and car for our test prices above. Your quotes will certainly vary from the sample quotes listed in this article based on your own details—and they may even vary from one comparison service to another.
Compare car insurance quotes by age
Young drivers in particular are affected by difficult pricing and less choice of providers. In our tests, Aviva (General Accident) and Admiral (LittleBox) were the cheapest car insurance companies for young drivers (meanwhile AXA was reluctant to even offer a quote for young drivers in our tests). Not surprisingly, most of the cheapest quotes were for telematics plans that track driving style (but telematics is not always cheaper).
Compare car insurance for drivers with a speeding conviction
Of the main insurers, we found that LV=’s Flow was the cheapest for drivers with a speeding conviction. Drivers with speeding convictions are deemed to be more dangerous and a higher insurance risk, so rates typically rise after a conviction. But some insurers raise rates more than others.
Compare car insurance for drivers with a drink and drug driving conviction (DUI)
For those with a serious drink and drug driving conviction, our research showed that Admiral was the large insurance company likely to provide the best quotes (via Admiral Essentials). Fewer insurers are willing to insure motorists after these types of convictions. However, other large companies may underwrite cover to convicted motorists who use a specialist broker who can work on their behalf.
Compare car insurance for drivers after an at-fault accident
At-fault accidents can increase car insurance rates by 20% or more, but our research showed that Admiral tends to raise rates the least after a claim, followed closely by LV=’s Flow brand.
Reviews of Top 10 Best, Cheap Car Insurance Companies
When comparing car insurance companies, do you prioritise the cheapest quotes, reliable customer service, or something else? Regardless, it helps to read about the pros and cons, see how prices and features compare, and learn what customers have to say. Our team at NimbleFins has written in-depth car insurance reviews that consolidate independent customer reviews from sites like Trustpilot, an assessment of features and the opinions of our writers. (To read car insurance reviews from dozens of brands, see the comprehensive list of NimbleFins’ Car Insurance Reviews.)
Below we’ve included recaps of some of these reviews to give you a quick overview to help you decide which is best for you.
While Liverpool Victoria is not the cheapest car insurance company compared to others on the list, their customer service and ratings are arguably about the best of the group. LV= policies can be purchased direct from the company, through comparison sites or brokers. Existing customers have high renewal rates and LV= states their multi car cover is the cheapest way to get annual cover for all the cars in your household^. Customer satisfaction is a stated priority of the company, which helps explain their high Trustpilot rating by customers. Here are some more benefits of insuring with LV:
(^Cheapest, like-for-like price quoted when all cars added upfront.)
Quick Takeaway: LV= is usually moderately priced, so those looking for the cheapest premium are likely to find a more suitable plan elsewhere. But LV is a solid choice for those looking for great customer reviews and good features who don’t mind paying a bit more. If you are happy to pay for wider coverage then 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. Get a quote direct from LV here.
2. Direct Line
The Direct Line Group sells Direct Line car insurance directly to customers—you won’t find the ‘Direct Line’ brand on comparison sites (but you will find The Direct Line Group’s Churchill, Darwin and Privilege motor insurance brands on comparison sites). Around two thirds of the group’s sales are through the Direct Line brand, and the other third are via their ‘budget’ brands in the PCW channel. The main ‘Direct Line’ brand does offer slightly better features, such as a courtesy car in event of theft or total loss (not just repairs after an accident) as well as cheaper admin and cancellation fees, compared to the PCW brands.
Direct Line offers a few unique propositions such as protecting your no claim discount on no-fault claims. Get a quote from Direct Line’s website here.
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, Darwin or Privilege brands might offer even lower rates through price comparison websites.
Churchill is often the cheapest quote on offer at one of the major comparison sites (Moneysupermarket)—so while their customer service and ratings might be slightly lower than the top-ranked brand on our list (LV=), Churchill can be a solid option for those who prioritise price. Churchill policies can be purchased direct from the company or through many comparison sites (but not yet via our partner, QuoteZone). Churchill is one of the “budget” brands of the Direct Line Group (along with Privilege). Direct Line is the third largest car insurance company in the UK, and 28.1% of their premiums are sold under the Churchill and Privilege brands via the price comparison website channel.
Quick Takeaway: Churchill is usually very competitively priced for the typical driver who doesn’t have any significant marks on their record, and customers report pretty good service. However, in our tests Churchill wouldn’t quote for around 30% of UK postcodes, so many people across the UK will have to look elsewhere. Get a quote direct from Churchill here.
Aviva is a leading UK car insurance company (the 4th largest in the UK), and you may recognise some of their ‘budget’ brands from the comparison sites. Depending on where you live, you may see their Quotemehappy.com or General Accident brands with some of the cheapest rates on offer on PCWs.
Aviva was named General Insurer of the Year awards at the 2020 British Insurance Awards. Customer service satisfaction is high, with more than 50% of personal lines direct customers holding more than one general insurance product with Aviva. Aviva has invested heavily in digital and claims management, enabling UK motor customers to start and complete their claims online with no underwriter touch points. Customers seem happy with online claims processing, as 80% now book their car repairs online.
In the UK, Aviva insured 2.5 million motor customers and settled 99.4% of motor insurance claims in 2019 (we don’t think they’ve issued more recent stats for these data points, unfortunately). Aviva has one of the highest Trustpilot customer ratings out of the companies in the top ten.
Quick Takeaway: Depending on where you live, Aviva might be quite competitive. 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. Get a quote direct from Aviva here.
The Admiral Group is the largest auto insurance company in the UK with more than 15% of the car 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 they had 4.94 million car and van insurance customers, earning profits of £623 million on motor insurance, making them the most popular car insurance company in the UK. One of Admiral’s stated corporate goals is to increase customer retention, which is good to know if your policy is up for renewal. Admiral also writes the car insurance for Ford-branded car insurance.
Quick Takeaway: While customer ratings aren’t the strongest, Admiral car insurance is usually quite quick and easy to arrange online 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. Or get a quote direct from Admiral here.
6. 1st Central
Around since 2008, 1st Central boasts solid customer and product reviews making 1st Central one to consider. They’re a broker who works with a number of different underwriters to cater to a range of motorists. However, while last year they had the highest Fairer Finance Customer Experience Rating in the group (66%), this has recently dropped to 60%. They are smaller than other big-name brands listed here, which might contribute to the strong customer ratings history. But with over 750,000 customers they’re big enough to be a serious player.
They include a lot of features as standard, such as a free courtesy car when using their approved network for insured repairs and offer higher limits for lost keys and in-car entertainment than you might find elsewhere. They also include some hard-to-value features like not losing your No Claims Discount if you’re hit by an uninsured driver and it’s not your fault.
Quick Takeaway: Given the strong product and customer experience ratings, it’s worth checking prices with 1st Central, which you can do with a comparison site like our partner QuoteZone to be sure (1st Central is in their panel). Or get a quote direct from 1st Central here.
Elephant is an Admiral Group brand (like Diamond) that is marketed as a budget option, with some features like personal belonging or key cover available as extra add ons. Premiums may be a touch lower but there’s no onward travel or accommodation after an accident and cancellation fees are on the high side.
Quick Takeaway: Elephant may be one of the cheaper quotes you’ll find. However, we’ve noticed lately that prices are nearly identical with the “Admiral” brand of car insurance. As always, compare prices to see what premiums are like before you buy, such as via our partner QuoteZone. You can also get a quote direct from Elephant here.
Quotemehappy is one of Aviva’s cheaper car insurance brand. Despite the low price, drivers get a lot of nice features included in their policies, such as legal and windscreen cover. As an added bonus, customer rate their experience quite highly at Trustpilot (although this reflects the sales process more than the claims process), despite the fact that this is an online brand with no call centre.
Quick Takeaway: Quotemehappy.com frequently returns one of the cheapest quotes for car insurance, but this will vary from person to person. Get a quote direct from Quotemehappy.com here.
Diamond is another of the Admiral Group’s brands. It’s aimed at women and safe drivers. As with Elephant (another Admiral brand discussed later), there’s no provision for accommodation or onward travel after an accident (although they will move your passengers away from the accident site if it’s not safe to the nearest point of local amenity) and cancellation fees are higher.
Quick Takeaway: Diamond is not just for women, although they do provide up to £300 for handbag cover (if yours is stolen from a locked car)! Diamond gets you a policy underwritten by the largest UK car insurance company and prices are typically competitive if you’re a safe driver—usually on par with Admiral quotes, not surprisingly. Compare quotes via our partner QuoteZone or get a quote direct from Diamond here.
A relative newcomer, launched in 2000 (and founded by the man who launched Direct Line 15 years before that), esure was a pioneer in developing streamlined car insurance buying on the Internet. You’ll also see the esure brand Sheilas’ Wheels on comparison sites, with prices usually nearly identical to the esure-branded quotes. 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 accidental damage claims.
Quick Takeaway: While esure is less competitive on price than some of the true budget options in the market, all of their policies are rated highly for including features such as a courtesy car, windscreen cover and personal injury on their comprehensive policies. And their Trustpilot score has risen noticeably in the past year from 3.7 to 4.2 stars. Get a quote direct from esure here.
11. More Than
More Than is another well-known UK personal insurance company, and for good reason. Even their cheaper “Essentials” cover includes all of the “must-have” car insurance features. They have solid customer reviews and we like that their customer service open 7 days a week. On the downside, their cancellation fees are on the higher side—they even charge a fee for cancelling during the 14-day cooling off period.
AXA is the 2nd largest car insurance company in the UK. They sells policies under their own brand and for brands owned by them, like Swiftcover, 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, the odds are high 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, and their prices can be very competitive for some drivers. They can be found on most price comparison sites, including our partner QuoteZone. Or get a quote direct from AXA here.
Hastings Direct offer three different policy types, so you can choose the car insurance that’s right for you. Their Direct and Premier policies are highly rated for features and include:
If you’re looking for something more basic (and less expensive), their Essential policy is designed so you pay for exactly what you need—and nothing more. Hastings Essential policies include:
They also offer a range of optional extras, such as enhanced personal accident cover, breakdown, motor legal expenses and key protection (costs for these vary but can be around £20 for legal and £35 for breakdown, for example). And those with more than one vehicle can save with their Multi Car insurance.
Those looking to save with a telematics plan can consider Hastings Direct YouDrive, which tracks your actual driving style. It’s easy to set up (DIY, no technician visits required) and you’ll be able to track how you’re driving via their easy-to-use app.
Finally, we like that Hastings Direct pride themselves on simple and straightforward insurance. This shows in their policy documents, which we think are easier to understand than some other providers in the market.
Quick Takeaway: If you’re after good quality, affordable car insurance, then Hastings Direct is definitely a good company to consider. You can compare their prices via a comparison site like our partner QuoteZone or get a quote direct from Hastings here.
We are not recommending any one brand in particular and these brands are certainly not guaranteed to give you a cheap price and you may find cheaper cover elsewhere. Please just use the information in this study to support you in learning about the market. Remember to shop around for car insurance, since some companies may be much more affordable than others for your profile. Choosing the best car insurance for your needs will depend on factors like price points and car insurance features you desire, such as breakdown, motor legal or courtesy car cover.
What’s the Best Car Insurance Comparison Site?
According to our analysis of customer review sites Trustpilot and Reviews.co.uk, the best car insurance comparison site is QuoteZone. QuoteZone boasts scores of 4.7 out of 5 stars from Trustpilot and 4.8 out of 5 stars from Reviews.co.uk, which are higher overall than GoCompare, MoneySupermarket, Confused and Compare the Market. This is part of the reason we chose to partner with QuoteZone for car insurance comparison!
The table below ranks the top car insurance comparison sites according to their customer ratings from Trustpilot and Reviews.co.uk—note that QuoteZone comes out on top. Get quotes via the QuoteZone comparison panel here.
To see which car insurance companies are in each of the panels, read more in our article What’s the best car insurance comparison site?
Who Gets the Cheapest Car Insurance?
Drivers around 55 years old typically get the cheapest car insurance, according to NimbleFins analysis. While the average cost of UK car insurance is around £500 per year, prices vary widely depending on many factors, including the insurance company, type of cover (TPO, TPFT or Comprehensive), details of your car (age, make, model, trim level, value, etc.), driving record—and your age.
For example, in the table and chart below see how cheap car insurance quotes change according to the age of the driver of a used Ford Fiesta.
When choosing between potentially dozens of car insurance offers, we often wonder what other people are paying for cover. Please take a moment to tell our other readers what you pay for car insurance in the poll below. Thank you!
Many of our readers wonder if they should get a policy that includes (or pay extra for) windscreen cover. To help them make this decision, we’ve looked into the cost of windscreen repair and replacement. Because once you have those costs to hand, it can help you decide if you should get insurance for it—and how much it might be worth to you.
We contacted 4 major windscreen repair companies to ask about the cost to repair or replace a windscreen on the very popular Nissan Qashqai (which looks to be the most popular car for 2022). Here are the prices we found:
As you can see, the cost to repair or replace a windscreen is not cheap. In fact, a replacement is likely to set you back £1,000 or so, even if you shop around for a low price. Keep that in mind when deciding on car insurance options.
How Much Do Car Insurance Companies Earn?
In the UK, car insurance companies earn an average profit margin of 16% a year. This means that for every £100 of revenues, the company makes £16 of profit and has costs of £84. These figures reflect an average across all policies—money-making policies (e.g., with no claims or small claims) and money-losing policies (e.g., policies with large claims). Interestingly, the core underwriting businesses tend to be money losers. Insurers turn a profit thanks to selling add-ons like breakdown cover, charging fees and selling premium finance (lending policyholders money to enable monthly payments).
In order to come up with a list of top picks for best and cheap UK car insurance, we first scoured rates from a number of comparison sites to find car insurance providers that were consistently among the cheapest for our sample profiles. Then we ranked companies on a combination of their TrustPilot or Reviews.io customer ratings, the features available (both on their most basic plan as well as their most premium offering, with all options included), and Fairer Finance scores to find which ones are best in terms of features and customer service. In each column (best basic policy, best all-in premium policy and best policy overall), we gave the best policy a score of 100%.
To come up with the data for our comparison charts, we gathered hundreds of quotes. We started with a 45-year-old driver of a 2017 Ford Fiesta Zetec 999cc worth £7,000. The car is driven 6,800 miles each year and is parked on a private driveway. The driver has 10 years of no claims. Then we varied the quotes by age and driving history. We received quotes if the driver had had at fault accident one year ago, if they were caught speeding and got 3 points and a £100 fine one year ago, and for a drink driving 36 mg conviction, with no fine and 3 points.
We took prices from two major comparison sites for plans with comprehensive car insurance, including windscreen and courtesy car cover. This meant that we didn’t always choose the cheapest offer from a particular company. For example, Admiral and Hastings both have an ‘Essential’ policy that is typically cheaper but doen’t include windscreen cover as standard or an add-on feature, so we didn’t use these quotes. Instead, we used quotes for the ‘Admiral’ and ‘Hastings Direct’ policies.
Please remember that any prices shown in this article are for educational use only are you are likely to receive different quotes. Car insurance rates are highly variable between one person and the next; and even one person might get different quotes from a company from one day to the next. Always compare prices before buying to see how the market is rating your risks at the time of purchase.
Note regarding savings figures: *51% of consumers could save £490.26 on their Car Insurance. The saving was calculated by comparing the cheapest price found with the average of the next four cheapest prices quoted by insurance providers on Seopa Ltd’s insurance comparison website. This is based on representative cost savings from June 2023 data. The savings you could achieve are dependent on your individual circumstances and how you selected your current insurance supplier.