esure

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Not to be confused with Essure.
esure
Public
Traded as LSEESUR
Industry Insurance
Founded 2000
Headquarters Reigate, Surrey
Key people
Peter Wood, (Chairman)
Stuart Vann, (CEO)
Revenue £ 570.5 million (2014)[1]
£ 103.3 million (2014)[1]
£ 82.4 million (2014)[1]
Website www.esuregroup.com

esure is an internet and telephone based insurance company based in Reigate, Surrey, England. It also has offices in Manchester and Glasgow. The company is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.

History[edit]

esure was founded in 2000 by businessman Peter Wood, who also launched the Direct Line insurance company for the Royal Bank of Scotland. In 2005 Peter Wood also Launched the highly successful insurance brand "Sheilas' Wheels". The brand is characterised by its three pink sequin-clad Sheilas who starred in a series of adverts made for the brand alongside a pink 'Sheilamobile'. The brand become one of the fastest selling insurance brands in the UK. Sheilas' Wheels focuses on women drivers but has offered cover to men too from its launch. The product includes benefits such as enhanced bag cover.[2]

esure is also known for its high profile commercials with Michael Winner, used from 2002 to 2005 and resuming in 2007. The adverts spawned the phrase, "Calm down dear, it's a commercial".[3] Winner was temporarily replaced by Mr. Mouse, a blue animated mouse character with an American accent. Mr. Mouse was designed by Sian Vickers and Chris Wilkins, who came out of retirement at the request of Peter Wood, the founder of esure. The pair were responsible for the Smash Martians as well as the four-wheeled red telephone used by Direct Line in their publicity. Mr. Mouse's catchphrases include "Insurance at mices' prices!" and "Go on, give us a click!". Mr Mouse was voiced by the actor and arts critic Kerry Shale.[4]

On 21 November 2007, it was announced that esure would replace E.ON as the sponsor of ITV National Weather bulletins. The two-year deal, rumoured to be worth £10 million, was negotiated by Carat Sponsorship and began on 1 January 2008.[5]

Lloyds Banking Group sold its 70% stake in esure to esure Group Holdings, led by Peter Wood on 11 February 2010. The share was valued at around £185 million.[6] The company was listed on the London Stock Exchange in March 2013.[7]

On the 8 December 2014, esure announced that it was acquiring the remaining 50% of shares in financial comparison website Gocompare.com having previously secured a non-controlling stake in the company.[8][9]

Operations[edit]

esure is now one of the largest providers of motor insurance in the UK and also offers home, pet and travel insurance. The company focuses on lower risk customers, offering cheaper premiums for customers with a current no claims bonus for its car insurance products. esure car insurance also incorporates the First Alternative brand which in the past offered quotes to higher risk customers as a separately authorised insurer but now sits as a small-scale sub-brand of esure.

Criticism and concerns[edit]

Concerns were raised in 2013 about potential conflict of interest. Esure's Peter Wood donated tens of thousands to the Conservatives and esure's Initial Public Offering (IPO) of February 2013 highlighted that insurance company friendly legislation of 2012 offered esure expansion potential. "Quite evidently, Esure itself thought it was benefitting from the changes under new laws, as did Peter Wood personally, who made some £198 Million from the flotation"; about a third of his shares. [10]

In October 2014, esure faced criticism after it declined an insurance claim and offered only a ‘goodwill payment’ of £5,000 on behalf of a policy holder whose abusive husband had set fire to her home. The husband pleaded guilty to effectively torturing his wife with an axe over a period of three days, and the non-payment of the policy left the victim homeless. In a statement, esure said they had "utmost sympathy for the horrific incident" but added that insurance was there to cover "unexpected events and accidents, not deliberate and unlawful acts by individuals destroying their property".[11]

Concerns were raised in 2014 about potential conflicts of interest when insurance companies own insurance comparison sites. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulations says such potential conflicts of interest must be 'flagged up'. A FCA report said "Small print on the Gocompare.com website informs customers that it is 50% owned by Esure" [esure owned 100% of GoCompare as of December 2014]. However, "the FCA found no evidence that such firms had profited as a result of their potentially conflicting ownership." [12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Annual Results 2014" (PDF). esure. Retrieved 28 March 2015. 
  2. ^ "Sheila’s Wheels sees European gender ruling as an "opportunity"". Marketing Week. 22 February 2011. Retrieved 29 June 2013. 
  3. ^ Wilson, Giles, "Ad Breakdown: Calm down, dear. It's just a mouse that's got your job", news.bbc.co.uk. Article written 26 May 2006, retrieved 2 November 2006.
  4. ^ "Kerry Shale". Retrieved 29 June 2013. 
  5. ^ "Esure becomes new ITV Weather sponsor". Digital Spy. November 21, 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-21. 
  6. ^ Lloyds sells 70% stake in Esure BBC News Online. 11 February 2010
  7. ^ "Esure shares leap after its float to boost London IPOs". The Independent. 22 March 2013. Retrieved 29 June 2013. 
  8. ^ "Insurer Esure buys rest of Gocompare for £95m". FT. 8 December 2014. Retrieved 12 January 2015. 
  9. ^ "eSure Group's Announcement to the City" (PDF). eSureGroup. 8 December 2014. Retrieved 12 January 2015. 
  10. ^ Bobby Friedman (5 Sep 2013). "Democracy Ltd". Google Books. 
  11. ^ "Abused wife facing destitution after husband burned home". BBC News. 27 October 2014. Retrieved 28 October 2014. 
  12. ^ "Insurance price comparison sites failing, says FCA". BBC News. 16 July 2014. Retrieved 18 March 2015. 

External links[edit]