Cox retail chief Neil Utley, who previously steered direct motor writer Privilege into the fastest-growing insurer in UK history, has devised a cashback motor insurance scheme believed to be the first of its kind.

Under the scheme, launched by, the online trading name of Cox's Boncaster arm, drivers will get their first year's car insurance premium back after five claim-free years.

The move comes against the background of a difficult, though slowly improving, motor market.

Utley is the one-time boss of Privilege – now owned by Direct Line – which became the fastest-growing insurer of all time under his direction.

The scheme, called Cashback, is supported by a TV ad campaign launched this week and fronted by motor industry expert Quentin Willson of Top Gear fame.

Motorists take out a comprehensive private car insurance policy with for five years. At the end of that time policyholders get their first-year premium back. They can also use the amount as a credit against the sixth year's premium.

Nick Potts, marketing director said: “We've used new technology to reinvent the whole insurance buying process to offer a fast quotation service both online and over the phone.”

It promises a provisional car insurance quote in under a minute, competitive prices, choice of cover from big-name insurers and 24-hour all-year service.

Andrew Teale, a consultant with actuary English Matthews Brockman said he had not heard of a plan similar to the one. “If you're giving back a premium, you've got to be confident it will make you a lot of money,” he said.

He said the motor market generally was improving “though 1999 hasn't been as good as we were hoping for.”

However, premium rates have risen strongly averaging an annual rise of 10-20%.

Motorists not yet due to renew their car insurance policy can register their interest in Cashback now online or by phone and they will be contacted nearer their renewal date. policies are underwritten by a range of UK insurers including Royal & SunAlliance, Norwich Union, Zurich and Cornhill.