In little more than a decade 1st Central has grown to the point where it has over half a million customers and can boast top ratings from independent financial analysts for its customer service and policies.
Defaqto: 5/5 stars & 3/5 stars (depending on policy)
1st Central Legal, Plus and Premier car insurance policies were awarded five stars by Defaqto, the independent financial research company. Only the 1st Central Value policy scored three stars.
TrustPilot: 4.5/5 stars
TrustPilot has given 1st Central a rating of 4.5 out of five based on 14,759 customer reviews, giving the insurer an ‘excellent’ rating. Breaking it down, 71% rated 1st Central as excellent, 13% reckoned it was great, and at the other end of the scale, 12% said it was bad.
Unlike many others in the market, 1st Central concentrates purely on providing car insurance. The broker employs 600 staff and operates out of four locations, Guernsey, Gibraltar, Sussex and Manchester.
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1st Central provides two levels of car insurance on all of its car insurance policies. These are:
Comprehensive Covers losses incurred by the insured and third parties as a result of a claim involving the policyholders’ vehicle
Third party, fire and theft One up from third party only, which 1st Central does not offer, this cover protects against claims from other parties as well as covering losses stemming from fire and theft or attempted theft
There are four different types of car insurance offered by 1st Central. With comprehensive cover highlights include:
1st Central Value A standard policy covering the cost of repairing or replacing the car, spare parts and accessories, legal cover if the policyholder is legally responsible for the death or injury of someone else, a courtesy car, replacement keys and locks
1st Central Premier In addition, personal accident and belongings cover is included, as is windscreen cover and legal expenses cover, plus other uninsured losses.
1st Central PlusIn addition to the Value policy, this policy comes with breakdown cover
1st Central Legal As with the Premier policy, but with £500 cover for legal actions, plus motor prosecution defence cover of up to £100,000 and access to £10,000 for legal representation if the insured vehicle is seized by the police or another authority
1st Central does not currently offer telematics or black box insurance, which sees a GPS-enabled device installed so the insurer can monitor and reward good driving.
1st Central doesn’t provide short-term or temporary car insurance, which is handy for people who don’t have access to a car if their vehicle is in a garage for repairs or they don’t normally drive but need a car for a brief period.
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1st Central doesn’t offer a multi-car policy, but it will gift policyholders £50 for insuring a second car.
Taking out a multi-car insurance policy can help reduce your insurance costs:
if you own more than one car
if you’re a family with more than one driver
if you’re a couple with more than one vehicle
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1st Central provides a range of car insurance benefits as standard with comprehensive cover, some features are also available with lower levels of cover, but it is best to check the policy. These include the items listed below.
Personal accident cover of up to £5,000 is available if the policyholder is killed, suffers permanent loss of sight, or the total loss of one or more limbs as a result of a collision involving their car.
In-car entertainment is covered to a limit of £1,000.
Up to £250 cover for loss or damage to personal belongings, caused by accident, fire or theft.
The insurer will replace or repair windscreens and windows, including scratching of paintwork caused by broken glass. The No Claims Bonus status would not be affected by this type of claim.
If the insured’s car is involved in an incident, including fire and theft 1st Central will also cover the cost of replacing children’s car seats and booster seats up to £250 per seat, even if there is no apparent damage.
1st Central will cover the policyholder if their car is hit by an uninsured driver, providing they are not at fault. In this case, the insured would not lose their No Claims Bonus.
Up to £1,500 of cover is provided to replace lost, damaged or stolen car keys and locks.
Policyholders have access to a courtesy car if they are content to use the insurer’s approved garage.
Aside from the standard elements of cover, drivers can boost their levels of protection by purchasing a range of extras offered by 1st Central.
1st Central offers three levels of breakdown cover, which are either provided by 1st Central or the RAC. All level cover roadside assistance and recovery, without a call-out charge
Emergency driver protection and cover at home are available to policyholders who select the second tier, while additional European cover is only available on the highest level
While up to £5,000 of personal cover is available as standard, policyholders can obtain up to £60,000 per person to provide a payment in the event of a serious or fatal accident.
Up to £100,000 of protection is optional to help recover uninsured losses and costs, such as solicitor’s costs, loss of earnings, and transport expenses while the car is out of action.
A replacement vehicle can be provided for up to 28 days in the case of a write-off or theft.
Car insurance excesses are one way to keep the cost of annual cover down, but if the excess is high protecting this could be worthwhile as it would ensure you get the full value of a claim back after an incident.
1st Central car insurance offers cover that will suit many drivers, but those with the following needs might like to pay special attention, as it could be ideal:
if you have young children and welcome the benefit of child car seat cover
if you have expensive in-car entertainment which might not normally be covered
if you are concerned about being involved in a claim involving an uninsured driver
if you want car key cover, which will ensure your locks would also be replaced if you suffer this type of lock
In the summer of 2020 1st Central announced that it was to use Shift Technology’s Force fraud detection solution to identify suspicious behaviours in both insurers’ applications and claims processes.
Paul Priestley, counter fraud director at 1st Central said: "Identifying fraud quickly ensures we can protect our honest customers, and as fraud continues to evolve, it's extremely important that we have the technology to keep one step ahead of fraudsters."
The Financial Ombudsman Service received fewer than 10 complaints about 1st Central motor insurance in the first half of 2020. To put that in context, 67 firms had 10 or more complaints each and those totalled 4,550 complaints. Nearly 200 firms had fewer than 10 each, sharing just 479 complaints between them.