Defaqto: 5/5 stars
Defaqto awarded U K Insurances brands plenty of five-star ratings.
Direct Line – five stars for the standard and Select Premier comprehensive plans, and also for the DrivePlus black box telematics plan
Churchill – five stars for the standard comprehensive and DriveSure telematics plans
Privilege – five stars for the standard and Car Insurance Plus comprehensive plans, and also for its DriveXpert telematics plan
Note: Not all Defaqto products with the same star ratings have the same covers and terms.
TrustPilot: 1.3/5 stars to 4.8/5 stars
U K Insurance brands received the following ratings on TrustPilot.
Direct Line – 4.2 stars
Churchill – 4.4 stars
Privilege – 3.6 stars
In addition to Direct Line, U K Insurance also owns the Churchill and Privilege brands, selling products covering cars, breakdown, life, home and contents and other types of insurance policy.
The company also underwrites car insurance policies for many other established names, including high street banks, insurance brokers and the financial services units of several car manufacturers.
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U K Insurance was established in 1974 as Ultra Keen Recovery – a broker of insurance services and agent to the car recovery business and distributers and wholesalers of motor vehicles. In 1987 the company changed its name to Ultra Keen Insurance.
In November 1999, U K Insurance was acquired by the Direct Line Group, which was then a wholly owned subsidiary of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). Following the financial crisis, in 2009 RBS – directed by the European Commission as a condition of the company’s receipt of state aid – sold its insurance business.
By 2012, Direct Line Group was a standalone entity and began trading its shares on the London Stock Exchange, having separated its operations from RBS Insurance. While the trading face of the group remains Direct Line Group, based in Bromley in Kent, U K Insurance – based in Leeds – provides all underwriting for the group.
U K Insurance owns the following brands:
Direct Line – insurance broker launched by Sir Peter Wood in 1985, offers car and van insurance plus home, business, life, pet, landlord and travel cover
Churchill – insurance company founded in 1989 by Martin Long, sells car, home, travel and pet insurance
Privilege – motor and home insurance targeted at customers through price comparison websites
Green Flag – roadside rescue and breakdown recovery service
NIG – commercial insurer: works with a network of more than 2,000 UK brokers to provide business insurance to small and medium sized enterprises
U K Insurance, through its Direct Line, Churchill and Privilege subsidiaries, offers the two main types of car insurance:
Comprehensive – with all three of the company’s main car insurers offering standard and enhanced levels of comprehensive cover
Third party, fire and theft
Additional vehicles can be added to the policy through the multi-car discount option. Direct Line’s keeps the policies on each vehicle separate to help spread the cost on differing start and renewal dates and protect no claims discounts.
Churchill's option offers discounts on up to 10 vehicles in a household and also allows for separate renewal dates on each one.
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Black box, or telematics insurance plans are designed to help lower costs for careful driving habits. These are popular with young drivers who, because of their lack of experience are considered higher risk and, therefore, pay higher premiums.
A telematics device is fitted to the driver’s car and measures certain driving behaviours such as acceleration, cornering, braking and speed. Direct Line, Churchill and Privilege all offer similar telematics plans.
Of U K Insurance’s main car insurance brands, both Direct Line and Privilege are given top ratings by independent reviewers. Let’s take a look at what benefits and services come with Privilege’s five-star rated Comprehensive Plus plan:
24-hour claims line
Uninsured driver promise – protection for no-claims discount and excess charges covered if in an accident with an uninsured driver
Guaranteed repairs – when carried out by an approved repairer
Personal accident cover – up to the value of £10,000
Guaranteed car hire – car of a similar size to the one being repaired until it is fixed
Motor legal cover – covering legal costs of up to £100,000 when claiming for damages
Overseas cover – for up to 90 days when driving abroad
U K Insurance’s various brands offer a range of optional extras that can be added to your policy for an additional premium.
If you have a minimum of four years of no claim discount and take out this cover, your discount will not be affected by claiming during the period of cover.
Available free on some of the enhanced policies, but can be added as an optional extra to the standard policies for an additional premium. Direct Line, Churchill and Privilege all offer £100,000 of legal costs to help the policyholder claim injury damages and loss of earnings.
Again, this may come as standard on the enhanced policies, but available at an additional premium on the regular plans. Guarantees a replacement car of a similar size and model to the one being fixed for up to 21 days.
May come as standard on some policies. Roadside recovery provided by U K Insurance subsidiary Green Flag.
UK Insurance’s three best known brands all offer highly-rated car insurance policies, with many benefits that come as standard. In summary, U K Insurance is best for:
Operating three trusted and five-star rated car insurance brands: Direct Line, Churchill and Privilege
A national breakdown service: Green Flag
Five-star rated telematics plans to help lower car insurance costs for young drivers
In October 2020, the Direct Line Group Community Fund distributed the final £1m tranche of a £3.5m support package to over 200 charities helping distribute emergency essentials, food, shelter, mental health services and online educational access.
In July 2020, the company announced the acquisition of Brolly, a London-based digital insurance innovator.
U K Insurance also underwrites insurance for the following well-known companies:
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicle
The Financial Ombudsman Service received 471 car insurance complaints about UK Insurance in the first half of 2020. This was the second highest number of complaints but that would be expected of the second biggest car insurer in the UK. Crucially UK insurance had just over 9% of complaints but nearly 14% of the market, so had far fewer complaints than might be expected given its size. 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.