Skip to main content

Ethical Car Insurance

In this guide we investigate, rate and rank the environmental and social record of 22 car insurance providers, with recommended buys and who to avoid. 

We look at car insurance companies’ investment and climate policies, their more shady tax arrangements and weapons connections, and find glimmers of positive change at Aviva. We also cover discrimination based on race, and insurance for electric vehicles.

About Ethical Consumer

This is a shopping guide from Ethical Consumer, the UK's leading alternative consumer organisation. Since 1989 we've been researching and recording the social and environmental records of companies, and making the results available to you in a simple format.

Learn more about us  →

What to buy

What to look for when buying car insurance:

  • Is it transparent about its investments? Policies are sometimes left vague with loopholes. A responsible company's investment policy should be combined with transparency.

  • Does it have decent climate commitments? An insurance company's major climate impacts are its investments and underwriting. Some are making an attempt to address that, although others are still just talking about recycling office paper.

Subscribe to see which companies we recommend as Best Buys and why 

What not to buy

What to avoid when buying car insurance:

  • Is it avoiding paying taxes? Many insurance companies have family trees that look very likely to be structured to facilitate tax avoidance.

  • Is it investing in arms and military supply? Several insurance companies fund arms companies, including nuclear weapons manufacturers.

Subscribe to see which companies to avoid and why

Score table

Updated live from our research database

← Swipe left / right to view table contents →
Brand Score(out of 100) Ratings Categories

Our Analysis

Ethical car insurance companies

With one brand scoring zero, and no Best Buys in the guide, there isn't a big choice of highly ethical car insurance providers, with many of the companies we reviewed towards the middle or lower end of our score table.

Buying ethical car insurance

An important but underrated way of shaping the world is by choosing an ethical insurance provider.

While on the surface their main activity is to safeguard your property or vehicles against the risk of loss or damage, their main impact on the world arises from, it could be argued, their insurance and investment choices and exclusions.

The difference between insurance underwriters and brokers

There are two main types of company that sell car insurance – underwriters and brokers.

The underwriter is the actual insurance company that pays out on the claims. While they do often sell directly to the public, many also sell through 'brokers' such as the AA, John Lewis or Policy Expert, which take commission.

We cover underwriters in this guide because these are the companies that hold the assets and which, therefore, create policy on whether to make ethical investment decisions. They can also create policy on whether or not to insure coal plants and other controversial projects. We have included two brokers that have underwriter companies in their family trees: Naturesave, underwritten by sister company Ecclesiastical, and Saga whose in-house insurer is Acromas. 

If you are buying through a broker, you should be able to find out the underwriter from the ‘Key Facts’ document which must be provided when you’re considering buying a policy. Comparison websites will also sometimes tell you. If your broker or website won't say who is underwriting a policy proposal, try another broker.

To complicate matters, brokers can sell policies from a variety of underwriters. And underwriters selling directly to the public can sometimes use different underwriters for other specific policies and risks. To be included in this guide, a company must have an underwriter somewhere in the company group.

Shopping around for car insurance

Since January 2022 it is illegal to charge less for new customers than existing ones, but it is still worth getting quotes from different companies. 

Price comparison sites can be used in conjunction with our ethical ratings to help make a sensible choice all round. Check more than one comparison site and don’t forget that they get commission from insurance companies.

Co-op car insurance

Co-op Insurance, which used to be an Ethical Consumer Best Buy, is now owned by a broker (Markerstudy Group). It is administered by Affinity Insurance Solutions Limited (AISL) [Markerstudy], and is underwritten by either West Bay Insurance Plc, Sabre Insurance Company Limited, AXA Insurance UK plc, Ageas Insurance Limited or Covea Insurance plc. Your policy booklet will indicate your underwriter.

To see how ethical your Co-op car insurance is, you'll need to look at the policy document and then find the corresponding company on our rating table.

Car insurers and climate change

Another crucial aspect of insurance companies’ practices is their approach to climate change. Unfortunately, all of the companies in this guide scored worst and lost a whole mark due to this.

The reasons behind this are several fold. One aspect that all companies but Covéa and Hiscox fail on is fully reporting on their indirect (Scope 3) emissions. This includes for example, emissions from supply chains and business travel, but crucially, also investments. Calculating emissions from investment portfolios is not easy but certainly not impossible either.

Companies are still very willing to invest in fossil fuels, and in particular, coal. But we can see a trend for divesting. Although most companies that cared to set a threshold for their coal related investments set it at around 30%, some went lower.

  • Aviva and Direct Line for example commit to divest from companies which make more than 5% of their revenue from coal but they both leave a loophole saying “unless they have signed up to Science Based Targets”.

Apart from coal, companies make climate commitments of various shapes and sizes. Indeed, it is somewhat of a surreal experience reading about how a company is changing its office lighting to L.E.D. while it is investing millions into fossil fuels. But some insurance providers are definitely greener than others.

  • Ageas says that it is committed to growing profitably through ethical and responsible investments but doesn’t give much details on the how.
  • Covéa just says that it can “contribute to the reduction of our customers’ and members’ emissions by making specific offers to them”.
  • Direct Line said that by 2030 the Group will have reduced by 50% the weighted average carbon intensity of corporate bond portfolios. While this sounds good at face value, carbon intensity is not the same as total carbon emissions. Intensity-based decarbonization goals are controversial, as they do not guarantee absolute emissions reductions.
  • Hastings just says that it has a responsible investment framework but doesn’t give details.
  • Lloyds has a somewhat confusing commitment to not financing new clients in the oil and gas sector “unless it is for viable projects into renewable energy”.
  • NFU Mutual is just encouraging its fund managers to consider ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) factors, but they also say that "We do not believe that ESG is ‘green’ investing and therefore do not exclude specific sectors deemed to be ‘non-green’ such as Oil".
  • Saga does not appear to disclose its plans to reduce the emissions of its investments, except that it ‘ensures’ that ‘robust’ ESG factors are considered when making investments.

Better approaches were:

  • Aviva has £1.4 billion invested in low carbon assets which is 56% of its 2025 investment target.
  • AXA is applying the “Warming Potential” methodology for its investments and has a green investment target of €26bn by 2023.
image: keep it in the ground protest banner with sunset
Insure Our Future campaigns against fossil fuels and supports low-carbon technologies.

Is the insurance industry voluntarily committing to take climate action?

We look at two campaigns seeking to engage insurance providers with climate change.

Insure our future

Insure Our Future is an international campaign calling on insurance companies to exit coal, oil and gas in line with a pathway limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

Insure our Future demands that companies:

  • Stop insuring new and expanded coal, oil and gas projects.
  • Phase out insurance for existing coal, oil and gas projects.
  • Divest from coal, oil and gas companies that are not aligned with a pathway to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

In October 2022, it published a scorecard assessing and scoring 30 global insurance companies based on the effectiveness of their policies to phase out the provision of insurance and investment to coal, oil and gas companies.

The scorecard did not cover all the companies in our insurance guide but included four of the biggest companies – Allianz, Aviva, AXA, and Zurich. They all scored relatively well for their policies on underwriting fossil fuels, as can be seen in the table below.

Insure Our Future scorecard for company policies on fossil fuels
  Underwriting coal (score/10 - higher better) Underwriting oil & gas (score/10 - higher better) Overall rank for
underwriting fossil fuels (rank 1 is best)
Allianz 9.0 2.9 1
AXA 9.0 1.9 2
Aviva 5.8 4.0 3
Zurich 7.0 1.4 7

Worldwide, most large insurers have now backed away from insuring new coal projects but many are still insuring existing coal operations. Allianz, Aviva, AXA, and Zurich are four of the 14 companies in the report that have committed to phase out support for existing coal operations.

The shift away from oil and gas, however, is slower. Allianz has adopted significant exclusions, but Zurich and AXA continue to insure new oil and gas projects in defiance of climate science and evidence.

Overall, Allianz ranks as the insurance company with the strongest policies on restricting fossil fuel underwriting, having adopted significant restrictions on oil and gas in April 2022.

Peter Bosshard, Global Coordinator of the Insure Our Future campaign said,

“Insurance is the Achilles heel of the fossil fuel industry and has the power to accelerate the transition to clean energy. All insurance companies must immediately align their businesses with the 1.5C goal of the Paris Agreement and cease insuring new coal, oil and gas projects.”

On average, the 30 insurers assessed for the Insure Our Future report scored 3.3 out of 10 points for their coal underwriting policies but only 1.1 out of 10 points for their oil and gas policies. Read the full report on the Insure Our Future website.


ClimateWise is a voluntary insurance industry initiative of Cambridge University’s Institute for Sustainability Leadership.

Members have to report on their climate policies, and support research relevant to climate change and the insurance industry. Being a member is a sign that an insurance company has intentions to tackle its climate impact.

All of the companies in this guide are members of ClimateWise, apart from: Admiral, Ageas, Direct Line, Sampo (Hastings Direct), Lloyds, NFU Mutual, Saga, and Tesco.

Insurance for electric vehicles

Electric car insurance is designed to give you traditional insurance cover but also protect you against issues unique to EV ownership.

Most electric car policies cover an EV’s battery specifically, but also its charging cables – if they are lost, damaged or stolen, when in your car or being used. EV insurance can also give you unique legal cover, protecting you if, say, someone trips on cable while your EV is charging.

How transparent are insurance providers about their investments?

According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), the insurance industry in the UK is managing £1.8 trillion of investments. This is equivalent to around 25% of the UK's total net worth. While this figure includes life and health insurance too, have no doubts that general insurers take their fair share.

These huge sums mean that an insurer's investment policies are of crucial importance to ethical consumers. Without scrutiny, we may inadvertently be funding unethical activities like Arctic oil drilling or unsustainable palm plantations with our premiums.

We rate companies by looking at their investment practices from three different angles:

  1. Investment policies – we expect companies to have a clear policy restricting investments in at least three of the following key problem areas: fossil fuels, deforestation, indiscriminate weapons, human rights violations, and animal abuse.
  2. Investment disclosure – we want to see companies that are invested in being named, not just sectors.
  3. Engagement disclosure – we want to see how they voted at the AGMs of companies they invest in.

The table below shows how insurance companies fare when rated against these criteria. We often see vague policies which do not provide strong evidence that certain companies would not invest in problematic areas.

Note that the worst rated companies in this category, although they may appear higher up our score table than others, will not be recommended buys.

Car insurance brands and rating for transparency for investments
Rating Brands (rated for their transparency practices)
Best AXA (Swiftcover),
Middle Allianz (LV=), Aviva, Intact (MORE THAN), Lloyds Bank, NFU Mutual, Virgin
Worst Admiral, Ageas, Bain Capital (esure, Sheila’s Wheels), Covea, Direct Line (Churchill), Sampo (Hastings direct), Hiscox, Saga, Tesco, Zurich

Apart from AXA, none of the companies restrict all investments in at least three of the problem areas.

Most companies have some kind of restriction on investing in coal mining – exceptions were Saga, esure, NFU Mutual, and Tesco – but only AXA discussed restrictions on deforestation and human rights, for all assets.

Full online access to our unique shopping guides, ethical rankings and company profiles. The essential ethical print magazine.

Inequality in car insurance

The finance industry in the United Kingdom has been known to be the worst performing in terms of pay between full-time male and female employees. But while the gender pay gap has been found to be 27.4% for financial service activities, it was ‘only’ 12.2% in the insurance sector.

There is still scope to improve. Our article on the finance sector and the pay gap has more detail.

Infuriatingly, Citizens Advice found that, in 2022, there was still an ‘ethnicity penalty’ in UK car insurance. Its exploratory research indicated that "people of colour may be paying £250 more a year for their car insurance than white people in areas where there are large communities of colour."

How do the providers rate for different ethical issues?

Below we focus on a few of the categories where we have reviewed and rated the car insurance providers.

Tax avoidance

Tax avoidance strategies appear to be prevalent in the industry.

Apart from Admiral, Churchill, Covéa, Direct Line, and NFU Mutual, all the other companies in our guide showed signs of likely use of tax avoidance.

Anti-social finance

Some of the money that companies save on taxes goes towards their management remuneration. All the companies in this guide lost a whole mark for paying (well) over £1 million a year to their directors.

Arms and military supply

With war raging just a couple of thousand miles away you may be more interested in knowing which companies finance arms. Aviva, Allianz, and Lloyds Bank were all named in the ‘Don’t Bank on the Bomb’ report highlighting investments in nuclear weapons.

We have a separate article which looks at banks and military spending.

Positive scores

Covéa and NFU Mutual received half a mark for being (owned by) mutual organisations.

Aviva and changing the rules of the game

Rob Harrison asks whether one of the UK's oldest insurers is beginning to show revolutionary tendencies.

Aviva is the fourth biggest insurance company in the UK and the 12th largest in the world. It is also the target of criticism by campaigners for its investments across the usual controversial sectors like oil and arms, and doesn't score particularly well in our ranking system. But if you look at the rankings of specialist ethical investment organisations like Share Action and UN PRI, Aviva is usually seen as a leader in its application of ethical principles to capital markets.

The reason we don't rate it more highly on our tables is because of its reluctance to rule out investing in some of these problem areas – arguing that it is better to stay 'inside each tent' and use its vote to 'engage' or campaign instead. But although its record of voting in favour of progressive resolutions at company AGMs is actually very good, the failure rate of this approach to get majority shareholder support is so high that, as a way of achieving real change it is looking unproven at best.

Rather than the old accusation of ‘greenwashing’, the buzzword in recent months around all types of 'sustainable investing' is now 'impact washing'. Not much is changing, and it's not changing fast enough.

'Macro Stewardship'

Since we last reviewed this sector though, Aviva has started talking a new language. To use its own words on just one area where change is needed:

"We recognise that some human rights issues are market failures and therefore need addressing through government and regulatory action. We engage with governments and regulators, particularly in our key markets, to call for and support policy action to tackle these challenges, such as through mandatory disclosure and mandatory human rights due diligence."

This kind of political analysis is in lockstep with most of the campaign groups we work with on this kind of issue.

Under the title 'Collaboration and systemic risks', it goes on to explain "our work to promote well-functioning markets and bring about a sustainable financial system is embedded across Aviva, in our stewardship at both a micro level (... by way of our investment research and corporate engagement) and at a macro level (market reform work to bring about systems change)."

It goes on to list thirteen collaborations where it was a founder member and around 40 more where it was a signatory or later participant. Some of these have been criticised as little more than talking shops (e.g. Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net-Zero, GFANZ). Others, though, have grown to become important global interventions: the World Benchmarking Alliance and the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) are just two.

Indeed the CDP's spin-off project, the 'Science Based Targets initiative', has gone on to be adopted so widely that it has become a de facto standard for industrial decarbonisation planning globally and is also incorporated into our own carbon ratings.

Aviva is not the main player in all of these collaborations, and many of them remain as unproven a route to effective change as voting at AGMs, but the language is interesting. To acknowledge that "we need to start actively changing the system itself" is a critical and unusual step for a large corporation, even if the answer that is proposed is "a more nuanced and inclusive form of capitalism" rather than something more radical.

It is also noticeable that Aviva is doing all this 'macro stewardship' work without really telling its customers.

Of course, global regulatory action is complicated stuff. But we reckon our readers can grasp some of what they are up to, and we are listing Aviva as 'Recommended buys' in two guides this issue, despite its relatively lowly score. Of course it is not perfect, but against other insurers which are barely at first base with their micro stewardship (voting on ethics at AGMs), it provides a coherent and well-argued case for consideration. And, like all our advice, readers are free to reject it if they do not agree that our analysis is correct.

Additional research for the guide by Sorcha Perris.

Company Profile

Allianz is one of the bigger companies in our guide, it operates worldwide, and its turnover was £137 billion last year. It performed significantly worse this time around than in our last guide. This is partly due to criticism for it holding over £3 billion in shares and bonds in the Qatari government and in businesses linked to human and workers’ rights abuses preceding the 2022 World Cup.

It was also fined $6 billion for misleading investors on risky investments within its US asset management unit.

In this and our home insurance guide, the brand is LV=.

Want to know more?

If you want to find out detailed information about a company and more about its ethical rating, then click on a brand name in the Score table.

This information is reserved for subscribers only. Don't miss out, become a subscriber today.