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1st Central car insurance review

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Founded in 2008, 1st Central is a provider offering a number of different third party, fire and theft and comprehensive car insurance policies. 

1st Central is part of the First Central Group. It was named Insurance Provider of the Year at the MoneyAge Awards for five years running between 2017 and 2022, and is a recipient of the ServiceMark from the Institute of Customer Service. 

Read on for our 1st Central car insurance review for more information on what cover it offers, how to make a claim, and what its customers think of its service.

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What car insurance cover is offered by 1st Central?

1st Central offers a number of car insurance policies, many of which can be purchased as either third party, fire and theft, or comprehensive cover. 

1st Central Value

1st Central Value is the provider’s most basic level of comprehensive car insurance, and its lowest-priced policy.

If you want to reduce the cost of your 1st Central Value cover, you can opt for an online-only service. This means you won’t pay admin fees to alter your details online, but cannot make changes over the phone.

With 1st Central Value car insurance, you’re cover includes:

  • Injury to other people: if you injure someone in an accident, 1st Central Value will cover the costs
  • Damage to other people’s property: if someone’s property, such as their car, gets damaged in an accident with your vehicle, the costs will be covered up to £20 million (plus £5 million for legal costs and expenses)
  • Fire damage: if you car is damaged by fire, lightning or an explosion, you can make a claim
  • Theft: if you car is stolen, or damaged in an attempted theft, you can claim on this policy
  • Accidental damage to your car: if you car is damaged in an accident, or by a malicious act, you can make a claim
  • New car replacement: if you have a new car that’s less than 12 months old, you can get a like-for-like replacement if it is written-off or stolen
  • Medical expenses: you can claim up to £100 per injured person in the event of an accident
  • Hotel expenses: if you can’t drive your car following an insured event, and you need to stay somewhere overnight, you can claim up to £500 for hotel expenses
  • Courtesy car cover: you can receive a temporary replacement vehicle (Class-A, such as a small hatchback) if your car is in need of repairs, and you take it to an approved garage
  • Child car seat cover: if your car is involved in an insured event, you can replace your child car seats, up to £250 per seat
  • Key cover: you can claim up to £1,500 for locksmith charges, car hire fees, and the cost of new locks if your keys are lost, stolen or accidentally damaged
  • Driving abroad: you can drive in any EU country, as well as Croatia, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, and Andorra, for up to 90 days under your 1st Central Value policy
  • Driving other cars: as the policy holder, if you are eligible, and aged 25 or over, you can drive other cars with third party cover under your 1st Central Value policy

1st Central Connect

1st Central Connect is a telematics (black box) insurance policy offered with either third party, fire and theft or comprehensive cover. It is available for drivers aged between 17 and 29. 

With a 1st Central Connect telematics policy, you will be sent a sensor in the post to place on your car’s windscreen. This will track your driving habits. By proving yourself as a safe driver, you can potentially reduce your premium at the point of renewal. It is recommended to younger or less experienced drivers who are yet to build up a no-claims bonus, as a way to reduce the cost of their car insurance. 

If you choose third party, fire and theft 1st Central connect car insurance, you policy will include:

  • Injuries to other people: if you injure someone in an accident, your policy will cover the costs
  • Damage to other people’s property: your policy will cover the costs of damage to other people’s property, up to £20 million (plus £5 million for costs and expenses)
  • Fire damage: if your car is damaged by fire, lightning or an explosion, you are eligible to make a claim
  • Theft: if your car is stolen, or damaged during an attempted theft, you can make a claim
  • New car replacement: if you have a new car that is less than 12 months old, you can get a like-for-like replacement if it is stolen and not recovered
  • Audio and visual equipment: you can claim for any audio and visual equipment permanently fitted to your car that is stolen, or damaged in a fire or attempted theft
  • Key cover: you can claim up to £1,500 for costs related to keys that are stolen or damaged
  • Driving abroad: you can drive in the EU, as well as a handful of other European countries, for up to 90 days

A comprehensive 1st Central Connect policy, meanwhile, includes everything above, as well as:

  • Damage to your car: if you are in an accident, you can claim for the costs of repairing your own car
  • Audio and visual equipment: as well as theft and fire, you can claim for any permanently-fitted audio and visual equipment that is damaged in an accident 
  • Personal belongings: alongside fire and theft, you can claim up to £250 for personal belongings damaged in an accident
  • Windscreen repair: you can claim for damaged windows and windscreens, without affecting your no-claims discount
  • New car replacement: you can get a like-for-like replacement for a new car that’s less than 12 months old if it is stolen or written-off
  • Personal accident cover: you can claim up to £7,500 if an accident results in your death, permanent loss of sight, or the loss of one or more limbs
  • Medical expenses: in the event of an accident, you can claim up to £100 per injured person
  • Child car seat cover: you can claim up to £250 per seat to replace child car seats following an insured event
  • Courtesy car cover: if you’ve been in an accident and you car needs repairs, you can get a temporary replacement vehicle as long as you take your car to an approved garage
  • Hotel expenses: if you cannot drive due to an insured event, and need to stay somewhere overnight, you can claim up to £500 in hotel expenses
  • Driving other cars: if eligible, and aged 25 or over, the policy holder can drive other cars with third party liability cover
  • Uninsured driver promise: if you’re in an accident with an uninsured driver, and it’s not your fault, you won’t lose any of your no-claims bonus, nor will you need to pay the excess

1st Central

1st Central is the provider’s mid-tier car insurance policy. You can choose between third party, fire and theft insurance, or comprehensive cover. 

If you want to reduce the cost of your 1st Central policy, you can make it online-only.

Both the third party, fire and theft and comprehensive levels include the same cover as with 1st Central Connect, respectively. The only difference is that standard 1st Central insurance is not a telematics policy, so a device will not have to be fitted. 

1st Central Legal

With 1st Central Legal, you can choose between third party, fire and theft, and comprehensive car insurance. 

Both options include everything found at the same levels with 1st Central Connect and 1st Central, with the addition of motor legal protection. This provides you with up to £100,000 of legal expenses to help you recover uninsured losses and costs for an accident that isn’t your fault. 

You can also choose to make 1st Central Legal an online-only policy. 

1st Central Plus

With 1st Central Plus, you can choose between a third party, fire and theft policy, or comprehensive car insurance. 

Both levels of insurance include everything found in the 1st Central Connect, 1st Central and 1st Central Lega policies. The key difference is that instead of legal expenses cover, you will have RAC breakdown cover as your added benefit.

RAC breakdown cover is offered at five levels: 

  • Roadside
  • Roadside and At Home
  • Roadside and Recovery
  • Roadside, Recovery and At Home
  • Roadside, Recovery, At Home and European Motoring Assistance

You can also choose to make 1st Central Plus an online-only policy. 

1st Central Premier

With 1st Central Premier car insurance, you can choose between third party, fire and theft, and comprehensive cover.

It includes everything found at both levels for all the policies above, as well as with legal expenses cover and RAC breakdown cover.

You can also choose to make 1st Central Premier an online-only policy. 

Other 1st Central car insurance policies

On top of the policies mentioned above, 1st Central also offers multi-car insurance

With 1st Central multi-car cover, you can get a £50 discount on every additional car from your household you add to a policy, up to a maximum of £250. 

1st Central car insurance policies at a glance

1st Central Value 1st Central Connect (telematics) 1st Central 1st Central Legal 1st Central Plus 1st Central Premier
Age range All 17 to 29 All All All All
Level of cover Comprehensive Third party, fire and theft or Comprehensive Third party, fire and theft or Comprehensive Third party, fire and theft or Comprehensive Third party, fire and theft or Comprehensive Third party, fire and theft or Comprehensive
Injuries to other people Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Damage to other people’s property Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Theft Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fire damage Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Repairs to your own car following accident Yes Comprehensive only Comprehensive only Comprehensive only Comprehensive only Comprehensive only
Motor legal protection Optional Optional Optional Yes Optional Yes
Your medical expenses Up to £100 per injured person Up to £100 per injured person (Comprehensive only). Personal accident cover up to £7,500 (Comprehensive only) Up to £100 per injured person (Comprehensive only). Personal accident cover up to £7,500 (Comprehensive only) Up to £100 per injured person (Comprehensive only). Personal accident cover up to £7,500 (Comprehensive only) Up to £100 per injured person (Comprehensive only). Personal accident cover up to £7,500 (Comprehensive only) Up to £100 per injured person (Comprehensive only). Personal accident cover up to £7,500 (Comprehensive only)
Driving other cars Yes (if eligible) Comprehensive only (if eligible) Comprehensive only (if eligible) Comprehensive only (if eligible) Comprehensive only (if eligible) Comprehensive only (if eligible)
Breakdown cover Optional Optional Optional Optional Yes Yes
Courtesy car cover Yes Comprehensive only Comprehensive only Comprehensive only Comprehensive only Comprehensive only
Hire car cover Optional Optional Optional Optional Optional Optional
Windscreen replacement No Comprehensive only Comprehensive only Comprehensive only Comprehensive only Comprehensive only
Personal belongings No Up to £250 Up to £250 Up to £250 Up to £250 Up to £250
Replacement locks and keys Up to £1,500 Up to £1,500 Up to £1,500 Up to £1,500 Up to £1,500 Up to £1,500
Protected no-claims bonus Optional Optional Optional Optional Optional Optional
Cancellation fee £50 £50 £50 £50 £50 £50

1st Central car insurance optional extras

Depending on what is already included in your base policy, you can also choose from the following optional extras:

  • RAC breakdown cover: you can choose from five levels of breakdown cover when choosing this policy as an add-on
  • Personal accident cover: you can up your personal accident cover to £60,000 per person with this optional extra
  • Hire car cover: you can get a hire car for up to 28 days, delivered to your home address, for events not covered by courtesy car cover
  • Excess protect cover: you can get your excess refunded when your claim involves fire, theft, vandalism or flooding
  • Legal expenses cover: this will cover up to £100,000 in legal costs in the event you need to recover uninsured losses and costs
  • Protected no-claims discount: with this add-on, your no-claims bonus won’t be affected regardless of how many claims you make on your insurance

How to claim with 1st Central car insurance

If you need to make a car insurance claim through 1st Central, you should complete the following steps:

  1. Make sure everyone is safe and secure: this includes yourself, any passengers in your car, and any third parties involved in the incident
  2. Exchange details: if a third party was involved in the accident, you need to exchange details with them, including insurance policy numbers
  3. Make notes: take a note of any and all relevant information, including the location of the incident, the time of day, and any other factors that may have influenced what happened
  4. Contact 1st Central as soon as possible: you should then contact your insurance provider as soon as you can, regardless of whether or not you intend to make a claim. Unless you need immediate assistance, 1st Central recommends submitting a claim via your account online. You can also call 0333 043 2011. 
  5. 1st Central will help with the next steps: once you’ve submitted your claim, 1st Central will let you know what to do next.

How to cancel 1st Central car insurance

You can cancel your 1st Central car insurance policy at any time online via your account. You can also contact the provider through its web chat service.

If you don’t have an online-only policy, and want to speak to someone, you can also call 0333 043 2085. 

When cancelling your policy, you will need to pay the following fees:

Cancellation period Fee
Within 14 days of your policy start date £0 (although a non-refundable arrangement fee will be minused from your premium)
After 14 days, or if 1st Central needs to cancel your policy £50

How to contact 1st Central car insurance

If you are an online-only customer, you can make changes to your 1st Central car insurance policy through your online account. You can also use the provider’s web chat service.

If you aren’t an online-only customer, and want to contact 1st Central about any issues that aren’t claim-related, you can:

  • Web chat
  • Phone: 0333 043 2085

These services are available from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm on Saturdays, 10am to 2pm on Sundays, and 10am to 4pm on Bank Holidays. 

Any changes for non-online-only customers will cost either £25 (if you make an amendment through the Your Account portal), or £35 (over the phone). 

If you want to make a complaint, meanwhile, you can:

  • Phone: 0333 043 2077 (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday only)
  • Write: Customer Relations, 1st Central Insurance Management Ltd, Capital House, 1-5 Perrymount Road, Haywards Heath, West Sussex, RH16 3SY

1st Central car insurance customer reviews

1st Central has an ‘Excellent’ Trustpilot rating of 4.4 stars out of five, based on more than 97,200 reviews. 

Of its five star reviews – which make up 76 per cent of its ratings – customers repeatedly praised the price of 1st Central car insurance. There were also customers talking positively about how their claims were dealt with, and the level of communication provided by the insurer.

1st Central’s more negative reviews repeatedly mention hikes to customers’ renewal premiums, only for the price to be reduced once questioned. 

“I have to admit, I felt like I was taking a gamble with 1st Central as I’d not heard of them, but their prices were value for money and reviews seemed good, so thought [I would] go for it. Then I had my bump and was immediately concerned about the service I would receive when I needed them. I needn’t have worried at all. [I] spoke to a very friendly, professional and patient lady on the phone for half an hour and they took over and did the rest. It was the only call I had to make. I was introduced to a very professional body shop company who contacted me separately and completed a perfect job. 1st Central, you have done yourself proud. Thank you for a fantastic service. You have installed a trust with you that I will rely on for years to come.”

“Very impressed with the way 1st Central handled my no fault claim. Staff very friendly and helpful. Seamless service with recovery service and courtesy car company.”

“They got a five star from me last year (due to the very competitive price, amazing portal and superb customer services). This year, they receive a two star because they have the audacity to increase my insurance premium by 79 per cent. It was £850 last year and I was offered £1,520 by the ‘system’ and the person over the phone. Wage inflation and cost of repairs increasing etc does not justify this price hike. I would have happily accepted 15/20 per cent (at a push) given the climate but 79 per cent increase despite being a year older, one additional year of NCB *and* my car value decreasing? I have gone to a competitor until 1st Central gets their pricing structure in order.”

What Defaqto rating does 1st Central car insurance have?

Alongside an ‘Excellent’ rating on Trustpilot, 1st Central has the following reviews on Defaqto:

  • 1st Central Value: ★★★ (including online-only)
  • 1st Central Connect: ★★★★★ (Comprehensive), ★★★★ (TPFT and Telematics)
  • 1st Central: ★★★★★ (Comprehensive, online-only) ★★★ (TPFT, online-only)
  • 1st Central Legal: ★★★★★ (Comprehensive, including online-only), ★★★★ (TPFT, including online-only)
  • 1st Central Plus: ★★★★★ (Comprehensive, including online-only), ★★★★ (TPFT, including online-only)
  • 1st Central Premier: ★★★★★ (Comprehensive, including online-only), ★★★★ (TPFT, including online-only)

How does 1st Central compare to its competitors?

Provider name Trustpilot score Defaqto score
1st Central 4.4 stars 5 stars (4 stars for third party, fire and theft policies, 3 stars for Value and 1st Central third party, fire and theft online-only)
Direct Line 3.7 stars 5 stars (3 stars for Third party, fire and theft and Essentials)
People’s Choice 1.4 stars 5 stars (4 stars for third party, fire and theft)
Hastings Direct 4.1 stars 5 stars (4 stars for Third party, fire and theft, 3 stars for Telematics, 2 stars for Essential)
Admiral Insurance 4.4 stars 5 stars (4 stars for Telematics, 3 stars for Essential)
Aviva 4.0 stars 5 stars (3 stars for Third party, fire and theft)
AXA 4.3 stars 4 stars (5 stars for Plus)
LV= 4.5 stars 5 stars (3 stars for Third party, fire and theft)
esure 3.1 stars 5 stars (4 stars for Third party, fire and theft)
Ageas 4.1 stars 5 stars (3 stars for Essentials, and Telematics)
NFU Mutual 4.4 stars 5 stars

All scores are correct as of 6 December 2023.

Conclusion

At a glance, it appears 1st Central has a wide range of policies for you to choose from. However, in reality, most of their policies offer the same level of cover (depending on whether you pick third party, fire and theft or comprehensive insurance), with one or two minor changes. So there isn’t as much flexibility as there initially appears. 

Nevertheless, with the exception of the cheaper Value plan, every 1st Central comprehensive policy has a five star rating on Defaqto. And on Trustpilot there are glowing reviews about how it deals with claims.

The option to make your policy online-only may appeal if you don’t need over the phone customer service and want to make your premium a bit cheaper. 

1st Central car insurance FAQs

1st Central is owned by 1st Central Group Limited. This company also owns 1st Central Law and Skyfire Insurance.

If you have modified your car, you’ll need to let 1st Central know before you take out a policy. If you don’t, your policy could be declared void. 

If you’ve already got 1st Central car insurance, and want to modify your car, you should first ring the provider on 0333 043 2085 in order to check whether it’ll be accepted under your existing policy.

Connor Campbell

Finance Writer

Connor Campbell is an experienced personal and business finance writer who has been producing online content for almost a decade. 

Connor is the personal finance expert for Independent Advisor, guiding readers through everything they need to know about car insurance and home insurance. From how much it costs to the best insurance providers in the UK, he’s here to help you find the right policy for your needs. 

In his capacity as writer and spokesperson at NerdWallet, Connor explored a number of topics close to his heart, such as the impact of our increasingly cashless society, and the hardships and heroics of British entrepreneurs. His commentary was featured in sites such as The Mirror, the Daily Express and Business Insider

At financial trading firm Spreadex, meanwhile, his market commentary was featured in outlets such as The Guardian, BBC, Reuters and the Evening Standard

Connor is a voracious reader with an MA in English, and is dedicated to making life’s financial decisions a little bit easier by doing away with jargon and needless complexity.

Amy Reeves

Editor

Amy is a seasoned writer and editor with a special interest in home design, sustainable technology and green building methods.

She has interviewed hundreds of self-builders, extenders and renovators about their journeys towards individual, well-considered homes, as well as architects and industry experts during her five years working as Assistant Editor at Homebuilding & Renovating, part of Future plc.

Amy’s work covers topics ranging from home, interior and garden design to DIY step-by-steps, planning permission and build costs, and has been published in Period Living, Real Homes, and 25 Beautiful Homes, Homes and Gardens.

Now an Editor at the Independent Advisor, Amy manages homes-related content for the site, including solar panels, combi boilers, and windows.

Her passion for saving tired and inefficient homes also extends to her own life; Amy completed a renovation of a mid-century house in 2022 and is about to embark on an energy-efficient overhaul of a 1800s cottage in Somerset.