Important Note: this blog post was originally written in 2007 and has been updated regularly ever since because of the ever-changing nature of the insurance market and ownership of brands. The most recent update is January 2016, and all information should be correct as at that date, but will remain subject to change and may well become outdated before the next update.
Some time ago, we wrote a blog post about a spat between Direct Line and Confused, in which the owners of the little wheeled telephones accused the comparison websites of a host of misdemeanours.
One of the complaints that Direct Line made about the aggregators was about the ownership of the comparison sites, suggesting, we suppose, that perhaps the price comparison sites might be biased in favour of their owners.
What many people don’t realise is that many of the competing brands of insurance advertising on your TV screens every day are all owned by a relatively few companies, and very little mention is made of the links between them.
Direct Line have been very quick to point out the following ownership issues with the aggregators, but after reading the whole of this post, you might decide that they have been lobbing stones from their own glass dwelling.
Confused.com owned by Admiral. Yes, that Admiral. They also own elephant.co.uk, Bell Direct and Diamond, the womens car insurance specialist, and Gladiator for commercial vehicle insurance.
GoCompare are “independent” but since early 2015 has been part of the esure group.
Compare the Market is owned by Budget. This one is a bit naughty, as all of the brands quoted are Budget group companies – but they don’t make that obvious – they also own Dial Direct, “Local Broker“, ibuyeco, Quote Mart, and Junction who run the insurance arms of the M&S Bank, RAC Insurance, Post Office, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, Halifax, and Santander.
MoneySupermarket is independent and a FTSE listed company, however moneysupermarket bought the independent advice site MoneySavingExpert, which in September 2012.
So much for the main price comparison sites, what about some of the other big insurance brands?
Esure group, owner of GoCompare, also owns Sheilas’ Wheels, First Alternative, Esure Broker and Sheilas’ Wheels Broker
Lloyds Banking group owns Halifax Insurance and Lloyds Insurance
Ageas Insurance owns Auto Direct, Castle Cover, Cover Direct, Done Deal, IAS, Kwik-Fit Insurance Services, Express Insurance Services and over 50s insurance specialists RIAS. It also owns a majority share of Tesco Underwriting, the Tesco car and home insurance offering, and is the insurer sitting behind John Lewis Motor and Virgin Money motor insurance
Markerstudy Group owns Markerstudy Insurance, insurers Chaucer Motor, Zenith Insurance, Auto Windscreens, Lancaster Insurance Brokers, The Insurance Factory, Zenith Direct, Chaucer Direct, BDML Insurance, Sureterm Direct, The Policy Shop, Supercover, and Masterquote
Aviva is one of the well-known insurers who only deal direct, or do they? Aviva owns the General Accident brand.
Allen and Allen Group owns insurer Mulsanne Insurance, plus brands Broker King, Insure It All, Quote A Car, My Motor Quote, Insure Your Motor, 4 Young Drivers, Girl Motor, Hyperformance, and ESInsure
Saga owns the Gibralter-registered Acromas Insurance Company Limited and underwrites for brands including Saga Services Limited, AA Insurance Services Limited and AA Ireland Limited, and owns brands Direct Choice, Taylor Price and motorbike broker Bennetts.
Royal & SunAlliance owns More Than, sits behind John Lewis home insurance and owns the Echoice brand
Liberty Mutual Insurance Company owns Hughes Insurance Brokers
Autonet Insurance owns Carnet Insurance and is behind UIA Trade Union Insurance for motor
Groupama owns Carole Nash
AXA owns Swiftcover
MMA owns Swinton, its4me and Bullseye
Zurich owns Endsleigh
Fresh Insurance owns Ladybird, First Insurance and Autosaint
Hastings Insurance owns Hastings Direct, People’s Choice and Insure Pink
Sabre Insurance owns the Go Girl brand, insure2drive, and Drive Smart
There are more like this, but finally we come to…
RBS Group – the Royal Bank of Scotland Group includes our old friends Direct Line, plus Churchill, Privilege, NIG, Green Flag, and all of the below trading names!
|Registered||U K Insurance Limited||06/08/1974|
|Trading||ATS Euromaster Motor Insurance||11/01/2012|
|Trading||BMW Fleet Insurance||11/01/2012|
|Trading||Churchill Car Insurance||12/12/2011|
|Trading||Churchill Home Insurance||12/12/2011|
|Trading||Churchill Insurance policies||12/12/2011|
|Trading||Churchill Pet Insurance||12/12/2011|
|Trading||Churchill Travel Insurance||12/12/2011|
|Trading||Churchill Van Insurance||12/12/2011|
|Trading||Direct Line Car Insurance||12/12/2011|
|Trading||Direct Line Commercial Vehicle Insurance||12/12/2011|
|Trading||Direct Line for Business||22/12/2011|
|Trading||Direct Line fuel & go||22/12/2011|
|Trading||Direct Line Home Insurance||12/12/2011|
|Trading||Direct Line Insurance||12/12/2011|
|Trading||Direct Line Insurance policies||12/12/2011|
|Trading||Direct Line Pet Insurance||12/12/2011|
|Trading||Direct Line Select||22/12/2011|
|Trading||Direct Line Travel Insurance||12/12/2011|
|Trading||Direct Line Van Insurance||12/12/2011|
|Trading||Green Flag Motoring Assistance||22/12/2011|
|Trading||Lombard Direct Home Insurance||11/01/2012|
|Trading||Lombard Direct Motor Insurance||11/01/2012|
|Trading||Lombard Vehicle Management Fleet Insurance||11/01/2012|
|Trading||MBNA Car Insurance||11/01/2012|
|Trading||MBNA Home Insurance||11/01/2012|
|Trading||National Insurance and Guarantee Corporation||12/12/2011|
|Trading||Nationwide Car Insurance||12/12/2011|
|Trading||Nationwide Home Insurance||11/01/2012|
|Trading||Nationwide Home Insurance Essentials||11/01/2012|
|Trading||Natwest Fleet Insurance||11/01/2012|
|Trading||Natwest Home Response 24||11/01/2012|
|Trading||Natwest One Home Insurance||11/01/2012|
|Trading||Natwest Pet Insurance||11/01/2012|
|Trading||NIG Insurance policies||12/12/2011|
|Trading||Privilege Business Insurance||11/01/2012|
|Trading||Privilege Car Insurance||12/12/2011|
|Trading||Privilege Home Insurance||12/12/2011|
|Trading||Privilege Insurance policies||12/12/2011|
|Trading||Privilege Motor Insurance||11/01/2012|
|Trading||Prudential Car Insurance||12/12/2011|
|Trading||Prudential Home Insurance||12/12/2011|
|Trading||Royal Bank Insurance||11/01/2012|
|Trading||Royal Bank of Scotland Fleet Insurance||11/01/2012|
|Trading||Royal London Home Insurance||12/12/2011|
|Trading||Royal London Motor Insurance||12/12/2011|
|Trading||Royal London Pet Insurance||12/12/2011|
|Trading||Sainsbury’s Car Insurance||11/01/2012|
|Trading||Sainsbury’s Home Insurance||31/01/2012|
|Trading||Sainsbury’s Premier Car Insurance||11/01/2012|
|Trading||Sainsbury’s Premier Cover Home Insurance||31/01/2012|
|Trading||The National Insurance and Guarantee Corporation||12/12/2011|
|Trading||The One Account Home Insurance||11/01/2012|
|Trading||Ulster Bank Home Insurance||11/01/2012|
|Trading||Virgin One Home Insurance||11/01/2012|
|Trading||Virgin Pet Insurance||11/01/2012|
Of course, we’re sure none of those brand affinity deals count as middle men, at least to Direct Line’s way of thinking. And I’m sure Direct Line think that everyone must know that they are part of a larger insurance group, otherwise they wouldn’t have made such a big fuss over the ownership of the price comparison sites. And we’re sure that none of the RBS Group would ever use a price comparison site, much less run one, given the arguments put forward so forcefully by Direct Line.
That must be another company that started up the now-defunct tescocompare.com, then, registering the domain name and taking out a trademark. And it must be a different RBS Insurance “whose brands include Direct Line and Churchill, is understood to have invested millions of pounds in the venture”. Sure enough, when tescocompare launched with a whole load of RBS Group brands offering quote comparisons “that you can’t get anywhere else” (although no Direct Line, of course) along with a large quota of HBOS companies. The service has since ceased trading.
All this makes me very grateful to work for a family owned specialist car insurance company – my life would be very confusing if I had to reconcile multiple sets of brand values that were pulling in different and mutually contradictory directions!
But for the customer – beware and make sure that when you ring round you are actually getting quotes from more than one company. And if you call us on 0330 123 1232 (or 0800 369 8590 free from a landline), we’ll impartially check our panel of over 40 insurance schemes.