Defaqto rating: 5/5 stars
The independent expert ratings agency awarded its top mark in 2020 for Sheilas' Wheels' comprehensive car insurance
Note: Not all Defaqto products with the same star ratings have the same covers and terms.
Trustpilot rating: 3.8/5 stars
Sheilas' Wheels car insurance has generally favourable ratings on Trustpilot, the customer review website. Its average score of 3.8 out of five stars, reflects an 'excellent' rating from 68% of more than 2,600 reviews.
Marketing towards women came as a result of underlying thinking that women are generally more careful drivers than men. However, the European Court of Justice ruled in 2011 that price discrimination based on gender breached EU rules on equality. Hence, the strongly female brand identity that's intended to appeal to women.
That said, the company offers its Defaqto five-star rated fully comprehensive policy and third party, fire and theft car insurance to both men and women.
Its comprehensive policy, however, still offers a few items as standard that the company believes make it stand out for female drivers – such as handbag cover and family-friendly repair workshops.
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The brand Sheilas’ Wheels – Sheilas named after the Australian slang term for a woman – was launched in October 2005 by Peter Wood, the insurance entrepreneur also noted as the founder of Direct Line and Esure.
Remembered primarily for its annoying, but effective, series of adverts starring the singing trio The Three Sheilas, Sheilas' Wheels is a part of the Esure group, which Wood co-founded with HBOS in February 2000.
All car insurance policies are arranged, administered and underwritten by Esure. By 2010, Sheilas' Wheels were also offering travel and home insurance, and in 2011 the company moved into the insurance brokerage market to help those with more exotic needs find car insurance.
The company offers a wide range of products and optional extras such as multi-car insurance discounts and breakdown cover.
Sheilas' Wheels prides itself of supplying family friendly insurance and its quality customer service. Its after-claim support also stands out, with features such as counselling to help cope with the aftermath of an accident.
So, to sum up, the positives for Sheilas' Wheels:
Family friendly service and support
Counselling phone service for accident victims
Multi-car insurance discounts
The Three Sheilas reached number 91 in the UK singles chart in 2007 with a novelty single produced by Stock, Aitken and Waterman called (I'm So) Happy Happy (You're Mine).
The company says on its website that there are 1,174 Sheilas' Wheels policyholders called Sheila, with one customer called Sheila Wheeler.
While the EU directive of 2011 effectively outlawed the practice of insurers charging women drivers less than men, studies have found that men, on average, are still paying £121 more than women to insure their cars.
This is not necessarily an equality issue, however, as men are more likely to buy more expensive, more powerful and newer cars than women, and professions such as footballers also drive up insurance costs for men.
The Financial Ombudsman Service received 268 car insurance complaints about Esure, owner of the Sheila’s Wheels brand, in the first half of 2020. That gives Esure just over 6% of all motor insurance complaints. Esure has 5.5% of market share, so received more complaints than might be expected for its size. But Esure sells cheap policies to normal drivers of standard cars, not expensive specialist policies. This means it probably has a greater number of policies for its market share. To put complaints 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.