|Wholly owned subsidiary|
|Headquarters||Churchill Court, Bromley, United Kingdom|
|Parent||Direct Line Group|
Churchill Insurance is a United Kingdom 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 part of the Direct Line Group; policies are underwritten by the parent United Kingdom Insurance Limited.
Churchill is notable for its advertising, that features a talking nodding dog mascot.
Churchill Insurance Company Limited 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. Home insurance was added to the Churchill product range a year later. In 1994, it began the use of a bulldog as the company's mascot.
In 1996, Churchill was awarded Investors in People, and an ISO9002 accreditation. The same year, the nodding dog was introduced to its advertising. A new product was also launched, in the shape of breakdown cover. The mascot for the company is named Winston Churchill, after the former Prime Minister of the same name.
In 1997, Churchill Insurance was named in Britain’s Best Employers for the first time, the year the company relocated to its current headquarters, Churchill Court. Travel insurance and pet insurance products were also introduced. In October 1999, motorcycle insurance broker Devitt Insurance was acquired. The company also launched its first e-commerce facility, enabling online car and home insurance quotes. In 2000, it acquired the Churchill.com domain name for online activity, and acquired NIG.
In February 2002, Churchill bought Prudential’s insurance business. In June 2003, the business was purchased by the Royal Bank of Scotland Group for £1,100,000,000. This brought Churchill into RBS' insurance division alongside Direct Line – another company Long had been involved in launching.
Following the bailout of the RBS by the United Kingdom Government in 2008, the EU demanded that certain group assets be sold off, including the company's insurance division. In February 2012, Churchill became part of the new Direct Line Group, which was created ahead of a divestment, which was completed in February 2014.
Today, Churchill offers a range of general insurance products, underwritten by United Kingdom Insurance: car, home, pet and travel insurance and breakdown cover, in association with Green Flag. They also offer life insurance, in association with Legal & General and motorbike insurance, arranged through Devitt Insurance Brokers.
One commercial product is available through Churchill: van insurance, arranged and administered by Brightside Insurance Services.
Churchill has won numerous Your Money Awards for its products:
- Best Online Home and Contents Insurance Provider – 2000, 2004, 2007
- Best Motor Insurance Provider – 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006 (joint winner with Direct Line), 2008
- Best Online Motor Insurance Provider – 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007
- Best Travel Insurance Provider – 2001
- Best Online Pet Insurance Provider – 2004, 2009, 2010
- Best Home and Contents Insurance Provider – 2005, 2008
- Best Pet Insurance Provider – 2008
In October 1993, Churchill signed a three year deal to sponsor the World Indoor Bowls Championship.
In 1994, it was decided that the company needed a mascot to represent the Churchill brand, and differentiate it from the former UK Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. A staff competition led to the adoption of a bulldog. The bulldog is a well known symbol of British identity, which is 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 television advertising, the computer animated Churchill dog used to be asked whether he could save people money on their insurance. This was 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 television series Please Sir!. Churchill was voiced by Bob Mortimer. Older adverts had Mortimer's voice responding to questions, posed by his comedy partner Vic Reeves. In April 2005, however, Reeves was removed from the adverts, after he was convicted of drink driving.
In 2004, a Churchill hot air balloon was unveiled, and was the United Kingdom’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 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. In October 2008, a new look website went live. In 2009, the company adopted a new strapline: "Count on Churchill". Television adverts were launched featuring the Churchill dog, alongside celebrities including Melanie Sykes, and Roy Walker.
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. During 2009, Churchill starred in twenty two pantomimes around the United Kingdom. In August 2010, he made appearances at Pontins holiday camps, before returning for his second pantomime run.
More recently, Martin Clunes featured in Churchill's television campaigns. This was until November 2012, when he was "sacked" after being banned from driving. Clunes was replaced by Dawn French in the firm's television adverts in February 2013.
In February 2013, Churchill received media attention, after it appealed a High Court judgement in the case of Bethany Probert, who, in 2009 when she was 13 years old, was hit by a car driven by one of the insurer's customers whilst walking along a country lane. Churchill's appeal centred on their insistence that the teenager had been walking on the wrong side of the road, listening to music and wasn't wearing a high visibility jacket. The company eventually paid 90% of the claim.
- Andrew Cave. "Royal Bank buys Churchill for £1.1 billion". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 12 June 2003.
- "RBS set to make £1bn from remaining Direct Line stake". BBC. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
- "Award winners 2000". Your Money.
- "Award winners 2004". Your Money.
- "Award winners 2007". Your Money.
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- "Award winners 2002". Your Money.
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- "Award winners 2006". Your Money.
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- "Award winners 2009". Your Money.
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- "Award winners 2005". Your Money.
- "Crystal Palace FC to use Churchill logo". Post. Retrieved 24 August 2000. Check date values in:
- Daniel Jones. "Long live Crystal Palace". Croydon Advertiser. Retrieved 6 August 2010.
- About us Archived 22 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Churchill Insurance
- Kerry McQueeney. "Oh no, no, no, no, no! Teenage pupils 'believe Winston Churchill is TV advert dog'". Daily Mail. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
- Ross Wagman. "Oh yes, it's Deryck Guyler". Retrieved 20 August 2012.
- 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 Archived 24 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Churchill
- Daniel Farey-Jones. "Churchill drops Martin Clunes after driving ban". Marketing Magazine. Retrieved 19 November 2012.
- Gillian West. "Dawn French to join Churchill the dog in the latest series of ads for the insurance provider". The Drum. Retrieved 1 February 2013.
- "GARY NUMAN. CARS, CHURCHILL ADVERT 2013". www.youtube.com. 22 May 2013. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
- Jill Treanor. "Churchill and Direct Line fined £2.1m by FSA". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 January 2012.
- Emma Reynolds. "Churchill appeals against '£5m insurance payout' to brain-damaged girl, 16, because she wasn't wearing a high-vis jacket when she was run over". Daily Mail. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
- "Insurers of motorist who left a teenage girl brain damaged argue victim was partly to blame". Slater & Gordon Solicitors. Retrieved 4 July 2013.