Insurance comparison sites say that they give consumers the tools they need to find the best car insurance deals. They claim that they have created a more competitive marketplace as internet technology has enabled users to more easily compare multiple policies and premiums against each other. This, they say, has actually kept car insurance premiums down.
Detractors, on the other hand, point out that claims of comparing the whole market are misleading as not all insurers are represented on all comparison sites. They claim that some, if not most, of the car insurance comparison sites offer featured listings and special placements for those companies who buy advertising from them. In addition, they state, the premium comparisons are deceptive, and the criteria relies too heavily on “cheap rates” without taking into account good service and policy features.
Finally, they claim, the increase in price comparison sites – most of which derive at least part of their income from referrals to the various insurers quoted – has added the cost of paying a middleman to the insurers’ cost of doing business. This added cost, of course, gets passed on to the consumer.
In fact, car insurance comparison sites can be a valuable tool for consumers who are looking for the best motor insurance deal – as long as you keep a few considerations in mind.
- Not all car insurance companies are represented.
In fact, Aviva and Direct Line, two of the UK’s major insurer’s, deal only directly with the consumer. Many of the insurance lines owned by RBS don’t appear on any insurance company comparison sites other than Tesco Compare. To get the fullest comparison, you should get quotes direct from insurers, and make a point of getting quotes from major insurers separately if they’re not represented on the car insurance comparison site.
- Check your assumptions.
Or rather, check THEIR assumptions. Some sites, such as Moneysupermarket.com, make assumptions about your situation when generating their price quotes. If your situation doesn’t fit their assumption – say you’re the wrong age, or have had a scrape or two – the prices quoted will not be accurate.
- Be aware that some sites put more emphasis on “sponsored listings”.
Since the site is paid a commission on every policy sold through them, many will put an extra push behind those insurers that pay out the highest commissions. Be sure to read comparisons thoroughly to make sure that you’re getting the whole picture.
- Know what you’re comparing.
In order to get the best comparison, you need to compare like-with-like. It’s important to know that the policies being compared offer the same cover, or the comparison simply doesn’t make sense.
Here’s the lowdown on five of the most popular car insurance comparison sites:
Offers a comparison of over 100 leading insurance companies, not including Aviva or certain RBS owned companies (Direct Line is the most well-known). May place higher commission listings above those that offer the lowest premium in your search returns. Bases premium quotes on assumptions about the applicant.
Tip: If you don’t fit the average driver profile, the rates that are quoted to you may be lower than the ones you’re offered.
Owned by Admiral, Confused.com claims to compare cover from the companies that insure over 97% of the UK car insurance market. Like Moneysupermarket.com, they don’t list Aviva or all of the RBS companies. They do warn you up front that the car insurance quote form is lengthy – which is a good thing, because it means that they gather all the information needed to get you an actual, real quote from the dozens of insurers they work with. The quote that you get from confused.com is the rate that you’ll pay if you choose that insurer.
Tip: Get quotes from the insures who are not included like Aviva and Direct Line to make sure that you’re getting a full comparison of the companies most likely to save you money.
Megastore giant Tesco opened their own car insurance comparison site in September 2007 backed by the RBS Group. What they’ve got that the others don’t is most of the RBS owned car insurers – with the exception of Direct Line. They also feature a long list of options that can be added to your cover as extras so that when you get a quote, you’ll be getting the rate that you’ll actually pay to that insurer.
Tip: Currently, Tesco Compare offers a more limited field (around 60 brands), with a number of major UK insurers missing from its comparison lineup.
Backed by Esure, GoCompare.com is smaller than some of the other sites but still compares your details with around 100 policies and guarantees that the premiums quoted will be the same as quoted direct with the insurers it compares. Policies from Aviva and some RBS insurers are not included.
Tip: If using GoCompare, also get a quote from Tesco Compare to include policies from RBS insurers plus Direct Line and Aviva.
Onwed by the Budget Group, CompareTheMarket.com covers a wide range of providers with over 400 policies included in their quotes. Names such as Axa, AIG and the Post Office are just a few. Again, in our quotes Aviva was not included. Like GoCompare, the quote form is a little longer than some but this guarantees an accurate quote without any assumptions about your needs or circumstances.
Tip: CompareTheMarket is a good option to compare a large number of insurers with accurate quotes but doesn't include some policies from RBS Group insurers or Aviva. Therefore, fill in the gaps with a quote from Tesco Compare, Direct Line and Aviva too.
PLEASE NOTE: The guidance published in this article is for information only and does not constitute financial advice or a recommendation of any particular car insurance product or company. If you are in any doubt please consult an independent insurance adviser. A database of advisers in your area is available at www.unbiased.co.uk
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