Insurer Norwich becomes one-stop motor shop

Norwich Union, the insurer, this week achieved its ambition of becoming a one-stop shop for the motorist by buying oneswoop.com, an online and phone-based car sales operator in Hammersmith, west London.

Norwich Union, the insurer, this week achieved its ambition of becoming a one-stop shop for the motorist by buying oneswoop.com, an online and phone-based car sales operator in Hammersmith, west London.

This is the latest in a long series of attempts by car insurers to move into other parts of the multimillion-pound car market.

Several years ago General Accident, now like Norwich Union part of the Aviva insurance group, bought a chain of garages with the aim of controlling repair costs. It was later sold. And Norwich Union has piloted a scheme for customers to buy or lease cars.

Bridget McIntyre, sales and marketing director of Norwich Union Insurance, said: "Research showed our customers would welcome the chance to buy a car from a company they trust. So we have looked at the best way to bring our car-buying service to customers. As a company the diversification makes sense: we estimate the total spend on motoring in the UK is £63bn a year and insurance costs make up 12 per cent of that." Ms McIntyre declined to say how much the company is paying for oneswoop, which has 20 employees.

Norwich Union, which insures one in seven UK motor vehicles, also published a survey this week suggesting that overconfident drivers are the greatest danger on the road. It found that 93 per cent of drivers claim to be very confident behind the wheel, but three-quarters of them have been involved in a collision. And although six in 10 think they would pass their driving test if they were to retake it, according to Norwich Union seven in 10 would fail.

Julian Lowe, actuarial director at Norwich Union, said: "No one likes to admit they are a bad driver, but we've been startled by motorists' misplaced confidence on the roads. Cocky drivers are a menace, as they often regard good driving as the ability to master the controls of the car at higher speeds. Our data reveals just how common car collisions are, and how we forget the skills and safety guidelines needed to obtain a driving licence."

The survey found that drivers are most likely to be involved in an accident on a Friday, and the safest tactic is to drive a gold-coloured car in Yorkshire on a Sunday.

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