Churchill Insurance Company
|Type||Wholly owned subsidiary|
|Headquarters||Churchill Court, Bromley, UK|
|Parent||Direct Line Group|
Churchill is a UK insurance company based in Bromley, London. Founded in 1989 as one of the country’s first direct car insurance companies, the company has expanded to offer a range of general insurance products. Churchill is a member of the Direct Line Group.
Churchill is famous for its advertising that features a talking nodding dog mascot.
In February 2013 Churchill announced that they would appeal a compensation payment awarded by a court after Churchill's client hit a 13 year old girl as she walked along the verge of a country lane. The victim suffered severe head injuries and now needs a carer. The driver was successfully prosecuted for driving too fast for the conditions and a High Court cleared the girl of any contributory negligence. Churchill claim that the girl was partially at fault because she was not wearing high visibility clothing as she walked along the verge.Churchill's court appeal
Churchill Insurance was launched by founder Martin Long in June 1989 as a direct car insurance provider. Long was backed by Winterthur, at that time a Credit Suisse subsidiary. One of Long’s early team members, Henry Engelhardt, went on to found Admiral. Home insurance was added to the Churchill product range a year later.
The company grew over the next few years and in October 1993 signed a three-year deal to sponsor the World Indoor Bowls Championship. It began the use of a bulldog as the company's mascot in 1994. A year later Churchill launched its first website and a credit card. It also became the first UK insurer to offer motor insurance estimates via interactive media kiosks. In 1996 Churchill was awarded Investors in People and ISO9002 accreditation. This was also the year that the nodding dog was introduced to its advertising. A new product was also launched in the shape of breakdown cover, provided in association with Green Flag.
Churchill Insurance was named in Britain’s Best Employers for the first time in 1997, the year the company moved to its current headquarters, Churchill Court. Travel insurance and pet insurance products were also introduced. Motorcycle insurance broker Devitt Insurance was acquired in 1999. The company also launched its first e-commerce facility, enabling online car and home insurance quotes. The following year it acquired the Churchill.com name for online activity and acquired NIG. 2000 also saw it win its first Your Money Awards and it became shirt sponsors of Crystal Palace FC, the football team Martin Long supported and would eventually share the chairmanship of.
Churchill bought Prudential’s insurance business in 2002 before being purchased by the Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) for £1.1bn the following year. This brought Churchill into RBS' insurance division alongside Direct Line – another company Long had been involved in launching.
In 2006 the high profile "Challenge Churchill" campaign was launched, involving the people of Britain challenging the brand mascot to find them cheaper car and home insurance. A new look website went live in October 2008. The following year the company adopted a new strapline: "Count on Churchill". Television adverts were launched featuring the Churchill dog alongside celebrities including Rolf Harris CBE and Roy Walker. Martin Clunes has been a regular companion of Churchill in recent years, with Clunes taking the dog in his motorbikes sidecar and threatening to bath the dog after finding shampoo in a magazine.
Following the bail-out of RBS by the UK government in 2008, the EU demanded that certain Group assets be sold off, including the company's insurance division. Churchill became part of the new Direct Line Group in early 2012, which was created ahead of the planned divestment.
The Churchill dog
In 1994 it was decided that the company needed a mascot to represent the Churchill brand and differentiate it from the former British prime minister, Winston Churchill. A staff competition led to the adoption of a bulldog. The bulldog is a well-known symbol of British identity - appropriate for a company with that name. The first Churchill dog was a real bulldog called Lucas. The company first used a nodding dog in 1996. Churchill began selling nodding dog characters in 1997 and the character is now synonymous with the brand name.
In the company's TV advertising the computer-animated Churchill dog used to be asked whether he could save people money on their insurance to which he responded with his famous catchphrase: "oh yes!". The catchphrase is believed to be an impersonation of Potter the janitor (played by Deryck Guyler) from the 1970s TV series Please Sir!.[by whom?]
Churchill was voiced by Bob Mortimer. Older ads had Mortimer's voice responding to questions posed by his comedy partner Vic Reeves, but Reeves was removed from the ads after he was convicted of drink driving in 2005.
A Churchill hot air balloon was unveiled in 2004 and was the UK’s largest special shaped hot air balloon. It measured 34 metres wide by 24 metres high and stretched wide and far enough to accommodate 50,000 real bulldogs or 1.3 million nodding dogs. The balloon appears at numerous events across the country, notably the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta and the London Marathon.
In recent years talking soft toys have been added to the range of Churchill merchandise and the character has also launched his own page on social networking site Facebook. In 2009 Churchill starred in 22 pantomimes around the UK. In the summer of 2010 he made appearances at Pontins holiday camps before returning for his second panto run.
- "Fun and Games for Henry Engelhardt". London: The Times. 8 March 2009.
- "Long live Crystal Palace". Croydon Advertiser. 6 August 2010.
- "RBS bags Churchill for £1.1bn". London: Evening Standard. 11 June 2003.
- "RBS must sell insurance arm as price of government aid". London: The Guardian. 30 October 2009.
- About us Churchill Insurance
- Driving ban for comic Vic Reeves BBC News
- Buy a Churchill dog Churchill Dog Shop
- "Churchill". Facebook. 2012. Retrieved 4 September 2012.
- Churchill in panto Churchill