Thanks to price comparison websites it is tempting to see every insurance company as exactly the same apart from how much it will cost you to take cover out with them. While economic concerns do tend to drive many purchases it’s true to say that in insurance, like in all of business, some companies are more successful than others. While some grow to become worldwide powerhouses, others fade away or never stray from their specialist area. While some flourish and continue to grow year on year, others struggle from day to day. It has to come down to more than price.
How do you decide who are the best insurance companies in the UK? Do you rank companies on size and profit; do you look at average policy price; or do you look at customer satisfaction?
It is somewhat fair to say that insurance isn’t an industry in which newcomers fare too well. Arguably the UK’s biggest insurance company is Aviva who can trace their history all the way back to a company called Hand in Hand Fire & Life Insurance Society who were founded in London in 1696 (although to many, they will always be Norwich Union). Another world renowned name with a well-established history is AXA, a French company who have enjoyed incredible success in the UK since they were formed in 1816.
But it isn’t all about the new boys. Chartis are not a name you will be familiar with but they have been aggressively targeting businesses for insurance since their formation in 2009. Their $30b revenue and 32,000 employees do make Chartis sound like something of an overnight success story but they are actually a division of Chinese insurance company AIG (best known for their association with Manchester United Football Club) who will celebrate their centenary in a few years. Maybe it does help to have a history.
So it helps to be big and it helps to be old, but what do the people of the UK think? Well it seems as though they like companies who specialise. According to Which?, the respected consumer watchdog, four of the top ten car insurers are Mercedes-Benz Insurance, Volvo Car Insurance, Toyota Insurance and Volskwagen Insurance. These policies often come bundled with new cars but it would appear that their specialist knowledge is much appreciated by the customers. Insurers were rated in four categories from ‘Ease of Quote’ to ‘Staff’ and an overall ‘Customer Rating’ with the top rating going to NFU Mutual. Of the big old boys, the highest score was received by RSA (perhaps the biggest in the UK) who landed way down in 18th place.
Home insurance provides similar results with not one of the big five insurers receiving Which?’s highly coveted ‘Recommended Provider’ tag. Hiscox were rated best overall even though they only ranked third in customer satisfaction, thanks to a comprehensive policy. NFU Mutual scored best with customers but their low building policy score saw them finish in third place.
So who is the best? Is it the biggest? Is it the oldest? Is it the cheapest? Is it the one with the highest customer satisfaction? Taking all into account, perhaps you may as well look for one that has the best advert.