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Calm down madam, it's only a commercial
First Alternative Car Insurance is a sister-company to Esure the guys with the ever so annoying Michael Winner and the now (in)famous tag line
Why have a sister company with it's own brand?
The answer is Market Differentiation. Most companies break up their market sector into segments and try to offer each segment a set of products or services that would appeal uniquely to them.
Esure provide insurance exclusively to drivers who have a full no-claims bonus and who have never had an accident. In that way they can offer low premiums to the best drivers out there.
However as a business model that means an awful lot of drivers are excluded by the company. The result is the setting up of First Alternative who offers a competitive insurance to drivers who still have a full no-claims bonus but who may have had an accident in the last 4 or 5 years.
I took out car insurance with them last year because they were about £50 cheaper than the company I'd been with since about 1993. It was a surprise because every year I'd ring around insurance companies and every year I'd get silly quotes for car insurance so year after year I'd stick with my old company. However last year after being redirected to First Alternative from the Esure website I finally found an insurance company that was cheaper than my current one.
Company Background (taken from their website)
First Alternative was founded by a chap called Peter Wood and launched its motor insurance product in April 2004. The company runs alongside Esure - also founded by Peter Wood in 2001- and between the two companies they aim to offer cover to around 95% of drivers. Both companies specialise in drivers with a relatively good driving record and offer a no-claims discount of up to 75%, which is 10% more than other insurance companies. Both companies also offer a courtesy car for those drivers who take out fully comprehensive insurance.
As readers of my previous reviews will know, I recently got rid of my old MGTF and bought a Honda Accord. Unfortunately after nearly 6 months of owning it, I was involved in an accident. It was entirely my fault and contrary to normal advice given under these circumstances I immediately admitted to it as the other driver in involved was an old lady who was just driving along minding her own business when I carelessly pulled out in front of her. I called Honda Assist (the AA) and they took the car to a Honda Body Shop whilst I contacted First Alternative. I called their claims number and was immediately put through to a very nice lady who took all the details of the incident over the phone. She filled out the claim form for me and took the details of the other car and driver and arranged to take my car to one of their approved repairers. I told her that I wanted the car looked at by the Honda Dealers and had already arranged for it to be taken there and she told me that this would not be a problem but that their policy states that a courtesy car would only be provided if the car was repaired at their approved garage. I figured it was a small price to pay to have the car looked at by a proper Honda Dealer so I told her that I would not require a courtesy car. The AA dropped my car off at the garage and I went home. I later found out that First Alternative would have quite happily arranged for the car to be taken to their approved garage or any garage of my choice.
Ten days went by and I contacted First Alternative to check on progress. This was over the Christmas period so I figured I'd give them an extra few days get started on my claim. When I called them, I found that not only had they started on my claim but they'd already received a repair estimate and were deciding whether to repair the car or no. Now First Alternative sub-contract the work of an insurance assessor to a third party so they arranged for this third party to contact me the next day with a progress report. The next morning I was indeed called by their assessor who told me that the repair estimates received from the Honda Dealer was about 60% of the market value of the car and that they would unfortunately be writing-off the car. I was rather surprised by this as the damage didn't look too bad to my untrained eye but the assessor assured me that he'd gone over the quote in detail and that he was satisfied that the £10k repair estimate was reasonably accurate. He told me that whilst they could in theory repair the car, they were uncertain of what other hidden damage there might be and that it would be best to not take any chances.
He gave me a figure for the market value of the car which I thought would be a couple of grand short of what I'd paid for the car but he again surprised me and quoted me a figure of £16200 which was £800 less than I paid for the car. On asking whether he could offer me more he went away and came back with a revised figure of £16500, which I accepted. The insurance company then told me that I had to send the original invoice to them along with the registration document and spare keys, which I did the next day. A week later I had a cheque sent to me, which I promptly deposited in the bank. All in all 4 weeks after my crash I'm now in a position to replace my car thanks to the excellent service provided by First Alternative. Remember this was over the Christmas period and New Year when one would expect things to slow down a bit but First Alternative have impressed the hell out of me. This afternoon I was at a Honda Dealership and purchased another used Accord with the settlement I received from First Alternative and a bit of my own cash to cover the difference. Incidently I've take out 'Gap' insurance this time in case the worst happens again.
Anyway fantastic service. Well-done First Alternative.
First Alternative quote hotline: 0845 607 0380
Customer services: 0845 607 0417
Claims: 0845 607 7280