Defaqto rating: 3/5 stars
Both the M&S Standard and Premier insurance policies hold three-star ratings.
Note: Not all Defaqto products with the same star ratings have the same covers and terms.
Fairer Finance rating: 4/5 stars
Fairer finance gave both the M&S Premier and Standard (with guaranteed replacement car and RAC breakdown cover) four stars out of five, one below the best rating which is awarded where the features most customers need and expect are included.
The Standard policy without these bolt-on extras received three stars.
Marks & Spencer (M&S) was founded when Michael Marks joined forces with ex-cashier Thomas Spencer in 1894, ten years after Marks, a Polish immigrant, opened his first market stall in Leeds.
M&S has changed a lot from those humble Victorian beginnings, when the stall bore the slogan ‘Don’t ask the price, it’s a penny’. The company’s latest annual report revealed group revenue of £10.2bn in 2019, and it can boast 1,463 stores across 47 countries.
Although fashion, home products and food remain its core business, M&S has also been active in the financial services sector since 1985. It began selling car insurance policies in 2004, the same year M&S Money, or M&S Bank as it became in 2012, was sold to HSBC.
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M&S Bank is now run jointly by Marks & Spencer and HSBC and offers:
Standard car insurance
Premier car insurance
M&S Bank Standard and Premier car insurance policies can provide the following types of cover:
Third party, fire and theft
Third party only
The insurer does not offer a telematics option. Telematics insurance policies are designed to allow higher-risk drivers, typically inexperienced motorists, to get affordable cover by agreeing to have a GPS transceiver installed to their car to monitor their driving.
By limiting driving to off-peak hours, keeping the speed down, and other behaviour they can get a cheaper policy, or be rewarded with money off their next premium.
M&S does not offer a multi-car insurance discount as standard. 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
Not everyone needs an insurance policy that runs for a full year, some drivers, such as students or people relocating home, will only need short-term or temporary car insurance to cover the periods when they are home. M&S doesn’t offer this cover.
M&S Standard car insurance includes a range of features and benefits. These include:
uninsured driver cover
three-year repairs guarantee
personal belongings cover
personal accident cover
child car seat replacement
24-hour dedicated support
The comprehensive version of the policy comes with a three-year guarantee on repairs, if they are carried out by the insurer’s approved garages.
Windscreen repair is provided on comprehensive policies with £0 excess.
Policyholders are covered for unlimited trips to EU countries throughout the duration of their cover, providing individual excursions do not last longer than 90 days.
Personal belongings cover worth £200 is provided to cover losses of items that are not fixed to the car.
M&S car insurance also comes with an extra £300 cover for shopping purchased at M&S stores up to 24 hours before the incident occurred.
M&S insurance will pay up to £10,000 if the policyholder or their partner is accidentally killed or permanently injured travelling, entering or exiting their car, or any other private car.
The insurer will contribute up to £150 towards the cost of a replacement child car seat after an accident, fire or theft.
A courtesy car is provided for the duration of the repairs period, subject to availability.
The M&S Standard car insurance policy is modular, meaning policyholders can pay to have additional features included. However, these and others feature as standard on the M&S Premier car insurance policy.
UK and European RAC breakdown cover, which is estimated by the provider to be worth just shy of £400, is included in M&S Premier policies.
Up to £100,000 of motor legal protection cover is provided as standard in M&S Premier policies to help with claims for uninsured losses. M&S estimates this cover alone is worth £26.
Use of a guaranteed replacement car for 28 days, following an accident, fire or theft, is included in M&S Premier policies. This is one step up from the courtesy car available on standard cars, which is subject to availability.
M&S car insurance has enough benefits to pique the interest of many drivers, although its Standard and Premier policies may particularly appeal in the following circumstances.
if you drive in Europe and would otherwise buy standalone breakdown cover
if you are concerned about the damage and injury uninsured, illegal motorists can cause
if you value the benefit of motor legal protection, which provides up to £100,000 of cover if you’re involved in a car accident that's not your fault, and need to pay legal expenses for uninsured losses
if you have children and know the high cost of replacement booster or child car seats
if you can appreciate the benefit of £200 of personal belongs cover, or £300-worth if you shop at M&S
M&S car insurance has many features that will appeal to drivers, but those with special requirements may feel they are better off considering other policy providers as M&S don’t offer a solution at present. These include people looking for telematic, multi-car and temporary insurance cover.
24-hour dedicated support: Policyholders can contact M&S car insurance in the event of a claim and will be assigned a personal support manager to work with them throughout the claims process.
Much of the news relating to M&S over the past six or so months has centred on the challenges posed by Coronavirus. But M&S insurance hit the headlines back in January 2020 when it announced it would reward new customers with M&S vouchers.
As of July 2020, new customers who buy a Premier car insurance policy receive a £50 M&S voucher, as do new home insurance customers. New Life insurance policyholders get £100.
The incentive coincided with M&S Bank’s decision to stop rewarding shareholders with paper Spend & Save vouchers. Increased printing costs and a fall in the number of vouchers that were redeemed were behind the decision.
The Financial Ombudsman Service received fewer than 10 complaints about M&S motor insurance in the first half of 2020 (which could have been a single complaint). But M&S’s provider, BISL, received 76 complaints. 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.