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Tree fall on car insurance

Car insurance is a must if you own and drive a vehicle; it really is that simple. Yet even though many of us spend hours researching the very best model to suit our needs, few put the same time into finding the right insurance cover to protect us should the worst happen.

And while price is everything for many people, if you need to make an insurance claim you may end up regretting not taking out cover with a company that charges slightly higher premiums but ultimately delivers expert service during your hour of need.

• Click here to take the 2017 Driver Power Survey

To help you make the right choice, we’ve ranked the top 25 insurers across seven key areas, from the speed at which you can take out cover to making a claim.

Along the way we’ve rated how friendly and helpful the staff are, how well they can explain the exact detail of their company’s individual products – including specialist cover – and the clarity of the terms and conditions and smallprint of the policy.

Add in how good the insurer is at keeping you informed in the event of a claim, what the overall experience is and whether its policy is good value for money, and you’ve got all you need to know about insurance.

• Cheap car insurance for young drivers: top tips

So which insurer should you go with? Before we reveal all in our top 25 countdown, we’ve uncovered a few industry-wide points that may assist you when you’re searching online or picking up the phone for a quote.

How much is your premium?

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Price remains the key factor when taking out car insurance, and many drivers use comparison websites. But past experience also plays a part; a company that’s given good service before and still offers a keen quote is likely to get repeat business, and 79 per cent of you stayed with your current firm. Slightly fewer people paid less than £300 for 12 months’ cover than in 2015; a few per cent more paid up to £400. 

If you asked for a discount, how much did you negotiate?

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Switch insurer and you’re likely to save – unless you negotiate with your current firm. More than 90 per cent of you scored discounts of up to 20 per cent by calling and haggling. However, the majority of Driver Power respondents tell us they still don’t do this, with just a third saying they’d phoned up to query a renewal fee. Our figures show more people should be doing it; what is there to lose, after all?

• Cheapest cars to insure

How long did it take to settle a claim?

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Only eight per cent of respondents made a claim in the past 12 months. But when you do, you want it dealt with quickly. If there’s a dispute, a claim can rumble on, but overall insurers seem to handle cases quickly, with 73 per cent settled in under two months – that’s better than a year ago. Not so great news is that, compared with in 2015, claims are more likely to stretch to a year than be settled in five months. 

The best car insurance companies 

1. NFU Mutual – 95.94%

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NFU Mutual has returned to the top of the tree in our Driver Power survey after a few lacklustre years. It’s been a serial winner before, and these latest rankings are a record high.

Three class wins and podium scores everywhere else tell you all you need to know – policyholders can’t get enough, with 100 per cent of customers saying they’ll renew with NFU. Just like our runner-up, it has local offices, suggesting the personal touch is everything. One reader said: “Local and reliable.” Another added: “There’s no mucking about when a claim arises.”

Would you renew your current policy? Yes 100% No 0% 

2. Swinton – 93.40%

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Moving up 10 places in 2015 and another nine this year to second overall is impressive form from Swinton. It’s one of the few insurers to have local branches where policyholders can talk  to staff in person. One reader said this was invaluable, telling us: “Good face to face service at the local office. Take in proof of cheaper Internet-based premium and you’ll get a better quote.”

It’s not just cheap deals on offer, either, with drivers rating its ability to keep them informed during a claim first. One said: “Excellent back-up when my wife had an accident.”

Would you renew your current policy? Yes 67% No 34%

3. Royal & Sun Alliance – 91.83%

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It’s another sterling performance for Royal & Sun Alliance as it moves back up on to the insurers’ podium. Four of its category scores rank in the top three, with 11th for keeping you informed its lowest rating. Last year, it was criticised for unclear terms and conditions, but that’s rocketed up to second now.

One happy reader told us: “It’s the best I have ever used, and is an excellent price for what I need.” This is a view that’s held by many RSA customers, with feedback such as “reasonable premium” and “professional” commonplace.

Would you renew your current policy? Yes 84% No 16%

4. LV – 90.42%

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Last year LV fell from fourth, but it’s come back strongly in 2016 with a string of excellent scores. While value for money was previously criticised, improvements have been made, and a five per cent overall score increase should be praised.

Also impressive is the near 90 per cent who said they’d renew. Strong speed to order results suggested LV’s phone and online services are top notch. One user summed up the experience: “It was easy to set up and staff are quick to answer the phone.” You say staff are friendly and knowledgeable, too.

Would you renew your current policy? Yes 89% No 11%

5. Lloyds – 90.19%

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The yoyo form of Lloyds continues for 2016 with its highest finish to date, having bounced around the midfield and bottom of the table for several years. A fifth place finish makes it this year’s highest riser and is a far cry from last place in 2012.

With a score of over 90 per cent, achieved by ranking eighth or above in every category, Lloyds would have finished in second place 12 months ago. One policyholder enthused: “They were very efficient and helpful, and the courtesy car arrangement was much better than I had previously experienced.”

Would you renew your current policy? Yes 80% No 20%

6. Ageas – 89.82%

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This insurer sells cover through a broker, and is on the march in Driver Power, having climbed by three places last year and another eight in 2016. So Ageas is comfortably in the top 10.

That’s down to a set of consistent scores, with all but clarity of information ranking inside the top 10. The best of these was keeping you informed, and customers are delighted with how much detail they got during a claim. One reader told us it “takes the strain painlessly”, while another summed up: “Competitive quote, clear documentation and strong company reputation.”

Would you renew your current policy? Yes 83% No 17%         

7. Marks and Spencer – 89.05%

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Marks and Spencer is the highest-ranked shop brand, ahead of rivals like Tesco, and is also the highest new entry for 2016.

It’s racked up an impressive set of scores, with four category top 10s including for keeping you informed during a claim and value for money. One customer who’d had to claim explained: “My case was dealt with very quickly and professionally.”

Marks and Spencer also offers a quick and friendly service when ordering, although one disappointment was product knowledge, which was ranked poorly at 22nd out of 25. 

Would you renew your current policy? Yes 75% No 25%

8. Saga – 87.90%

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The Driver Power winner from two years ago has dropped down again this year, but still holds on to a decent eighth place. The insurer – which specialises in cover for over 50s – is still keeping customers happy, with four out of five saying they’d renew again.

It performs well across the board, with no really poor rankings, and four top 10s. In fact, Saga’s overall score is up one per cent from 2015; it just lost places because other insurers have performed even better. One happy customer said: “They’re an excellent service provider with friendly and very helpful staff.” 

Would you renew your current policy? Yes 79% No 11%         

9. More Than – 87.09%

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Last year was something of an anomaly for More Than, as it hit the bottom of our charts after steady progress in the years before.

Wrongs have been righted in 2016, though, and the insurer has rebounded back to the top 10, with great scores for value for money and the ability to keep customers up to speed on claims.

One reader told us they received “good service” and added: “They are very reasonably priced for me and could be worth getting a quote from.” There’s still work to do, though, with last place for speed to order particularly disappointing.

Would you renew your current policy? Yes 77% No 23%         

10. Direct Line – 86.25%

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Direct Line has never really performed too well in our Driver Power surveys, but this year it breaks the mould and secures a top 10 finish – ahead of big rival Aviva.

Huge improvements in keeping drivers informed during a claim and value for money have helped boost its score by seven per cent from 12 months ago. One reader summed up the performance: “It’s the biggest and best – excellent claims resolution and sensible options and discounts.” However, the scoreboard suggests there’s even more scope for improvements.

Would you renew your current policy? Yes 87% No 13%  

Lowest-ranked car insurance companies 2016

21. Privilege – 83.09%

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Privilege is another insurer to fall down the rankings after climbing last year. A little over 77 per cent of policyholders would renew with the company, but 23rd place for speed to order suggests it isn’t the quickest insurer to respond.

Still, once you get hold of Privilege, it seems to be helpful. One reader told us: “A very good service by phone, very happy with it.” And 12th for product knowledge is impressive, too. There remains room for improvement in keeping policyholders informed when dealing with a claim, as well as value for money. 

Would you renew your current policy? Yes 77% No 23% 

22. AA – 80.79%

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Motoring giant the AA falls two places this year, despite good scores in various categories. Also known as a breakdown cover expert, it’s up nine positions in the friendliness and helpfulness category and climbed 11 places in speed to order over 2015.

Also impressive is 10th for product knowledge, although last place for value for money is less so. One reader pointed out: “I don’t like that they fleeced me in the second year, saying the first year price was an incentive deal.” Another said: “Not the easiest to deal with when trying to negotiate a better price.” 

Would you renew your current policy? Yes 86% No 14%

23. Adrian Flux – 80.04%

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Last year, Adrian Flux climbed 10 places to 15th, but it’s down eight positions in Driver Power 2016. Known for covering classic and performance cars, it’s rated high for its clarity of information. One reader said the firm is “very helpful and clear on the phone”.

However, other criteria that were previous strongholds for the company have fallen in the rankings – most notably value for money and friendliness and helpfulness. Still, 82 per cent of respondents said they would renew their policy, which is higher than the 79 per cent average for renewals this year.

Would you renew your current policy? Yes 82% No 18%

24. One Call Insurance – 78.66%

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It’s a year of mixed results for One Call Insurance. It ranked last for clarity of information when buying a policy, but its staff are some of the friendliest and most helpful out there.

Policyholders also weren’t impressed with its value or its ability to keep them informed when making a claim, although 15th place for product knowledge is worth mentioning.

Improvement in a few categories would surely help One Call climb the chart. One reader said: “I’m not happy with the claims service; it put me through to an accident management company.”

Would you renew your current policy? Yes 68% No 32% 

25. Swiftcover – 73.16%

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Swiftcover shouldn’t be too upset about ranking 25th in this year’s survey – after all, a host of insurers didn’t even make it in at all. But the online-only provider was ranked last in our 25 for friendliness and helpfulness, along with product knowledge.

In response, Swiftcover told us: “We continually develop our business in response to customers, and although it’s clear from these results that we don’t always get it right, customer feedback from other sources shows we mostly exceed expectations. We will take these findings on board and use them to improve.”

Would you renew your current policy? Yes 63% No 37%

Now see the best cars to own in 2016, compiled from Driver Power data.

in association with 
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You may think you're pretty good behind the wheel. But if you rack up enough accidents, speeding tickets or even one serious infraction -- such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs -- you may find yourself classified as a "high-risk driver."

That means you won’t be able to buy car insurance in the standard market. Nonstandard or “assigned risk” drivers can expect to pay up to three times more for car insurance than drivers with a clean record.

Not all insurers treat high-risk drivers the same way. Some companies will assess much harsher rate penalties than others on high-risk customers, which means it's always wise to compare car insurance quotes before buying a high-risk policy. Finding the most forgiving carrier can ease the painfully high rates that typically come with being a high-risk driver.

Here are some other things you should know about how insurers handle high-risk drivers.

What is a high-risk driver, exactly?

Before selling you car insurance, insurers will check a number of things -- including your driving record and claims and credit history.

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), drivers fall into one of the following categories:

  • Preferred: Drivers with outstanding driving records, excellent credit and buy higher limits. This group gets the lowest car insurance rates.
  • Standard: Average drivers with good driving records and average credit. This group get decent rates.
  • Nonstandard: Young, inexperienced drivers and drivers with many tickets and accidents or a reckless driving or DUI history (also known as high-risk drivers). This group poses a lot of risk to insurers so pay more than the other groups for their car insurance premiums.

And then there is a fourth category: Drivers who can't convince any insurance company to sell them a policy.

This type of driver can still buy insurance through their state’s "assigned risk" pool but they'll typically have to prove they've been repeatedly rejected by car insurance companies, and their premiums will be two to three times higher than the national average.

Other ways to become a high-risk driver

In addition to having multiple accidents, speeding tickets or a DUI, there are other factors that can push you into the high-risk category. The following items will not necessarily dump you in the “assigned risk pool,” but the are factors that can increase your car insurance rates.

  • Bad credit score. Although you can't be denied insurance altogether for a lousy credit score, it can be a factor in what an insurance company will charge you in most states.
  • A lapsed insurance policy. If you failed to pay your car insurance premium and had your policy cancelled by another insurance company, other car insurance companies will likely find out and factor that into your premium. You'll also pay higher rates if you drove without insurance for a period of time -- in some states it has to be at least 30 days -- in the previous 12 months.
  • A young driver with no record. Inexperienced drivers are among the riskiest around. It's important to establish and maintain a good driving record if you want inexpensive insurance.
  • Your profession: People who drive great distances for their job -- delivery drivers for example -- are considered high-risk drivers by many car insurance companies. If you drive for work and not just to work, you probably need a business auto policy, not a regular personal lines policy.
  • Your car: Certain types of high-powered cars, including some sports cars, can fuel higher auto insurance rates. These cars are expensive to repair and their drivers tend to make more claims. Check out Insure.com's list of the most and least expensive cars to insure to see how vehicle choice can impact your rates.

What to do if you can't get car insurance

If one company turns you down for auto insurance, keep shopping with the best auto insurers to compare quotes.. Another may be willing to sell you a policy, and you want to stay out of the assigned-risk pool. Being classified as a "high-risk driver" doesn't necessarily force you to buy from your state’s assigned-risk pool.

Most car insurance companies will forget about your accidents and poor driving record if you maintain a clean driving record for at least three years. But this varies by insurer. Some will look back as far as five years when assessing how risky a driver you are. If the offense has fallen off your driving record, your insurer should no longer be able to use it to increase your rates.

Many states use a point system that assigns a score according to the severity of an incident. Insurers use a different system of "insurance points" that they associate with various traffic violations, accidents and claims. Just as with state points, the more severe the offense, the more points you're assigned.

You can ask your insurer how long it will take for your insurance points and related surcharge (increase in rates) to fall off so your rates can improve. In the meantime, driving carefully, avoiding accidents and paying your insurance bill on time should be your goals.


Trees can be tricky, but for the most part homeowners are responsible for what falls into their own yard. So if your neighbor’s tree falls in your yard, your homeowners insurance would typically help cover the cost of removing the tree and remedying the damage it caused, after your deductible.

The same is true in reverse: If a tree on your property falls in your neighbor’s yard, your neighbor should file a claim with his or her insurance company.

In most cases, neighbors are able to work things out without too much trouble. If there’s ever an issue, you can rely on your claims adjuster to help straighten everything out.

The claims process

If a tree falls on your house, make sure to take some photos. Then call your claims adjuster, who will evaluate the damage and explain how your homeowners coverage comes into play. It’s recommended that you call your claims adjuster before you contract to have the tree removed.

Sometimes trees fall on cars. If it’s not safe or possible to remove the tree from the car yourself, you should call a professional to remove it. (Again, talk to a claims adjuster first and take a few photos of the fallen tree on your car.) Depending on the damage, both your homeowners and the optional comprehensive coverage you may have under your auto policy could provide coverage for the loss.

Preventing tree damage

Preventive measures matter when it comes to trees. Start by looking for signs of distress such as dead limbs, cracks in the trunk or major limbs, leaning to one side and branches that are close to a house or power line. Mushroom growth on the roots or bark can also signal trouble.

“A homeowner should be concerned about the health of their trees,” says Gary Sullivan, vice president of Property and Subrogation Claims at ERIE. “The best thing to do is to regularly have large trees trimmed.” (The Tree Care Industry Association lists accredited tree care professionals.)

To learn more and to ensure you have the right coverage for your home, contact an Erie Insurance Agent in your community.


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