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The not-so funny revelations about online price comparison sites

Shopping for insurance online has never been simpler, has it? There are now more than 50 price comparison sites all clamouring for the attention of the consumer, all promising different yet equally as attractive concessions. But how truthful are these assurances of ‘cheapest’ insurance? Operations Director at Russell Scanlan Andy Jenkins delves into the world of comparison sites.

The rise of the price comparison site has been a steady but increasingly comedic one, with meerkats and opera singers now bringing to life and simplifying what many people find an arduous and complicated task.

Gone are the days when you had to trawl the internet yourself for the ‘best’ price for home, car or holiday insurance across a broad range of different providers – the automated search engines now complete that job in mere seconds flat with just the click of your mouse. Or so we assume.

And therein lies the itch. Speed is a luxury, but at what cost? With so much choice in the market, from the big well-known comparison sites to new ones, where should a consumer look first and which sites should they always trust?

A recent Channel 4 probe into the industry of online insurance comparison sites, called Supershoppers, has tested the process - and concerningly discovered that those looking for motor insurance without the help of brokers could end up paying more, because charges vary depending on where the consumer looks. The programme found that identical policies could actually spell a £300 difference.

This is because every car insurance company, for example, is negotiating a different deal with each of the comparison sites. The same is true for flight operators, home insurers and hotel chains. In effect, the only way a consumer can be certain they’ve got the ‘best’ deal using price comparison sites is to compare the cost of the product/ service they want on all the price comparison sites – which seems to defeat the point somewhat!

Short of a comparison website for comparison websites being launched, as a long established and independent insurance broker Russell Scanlan recommends that time poor Brits speak to their local broker first and foremost.

We can’t pretend that this won’t take a little longer than using an online comparison site – because independent brokers take pride in getting to know customers and finding the best possible package to suit their needs – but it will result in the most competitively priced policy.

In addition, the risk of accidentally entering incorrect information when applying for insurance online – or the temptation to lie about, for example, your driving history – is all the greater when not interacting with a human being and when speed is the name of the game. At Russell Scanlan, we take time to ask the right questions, explain the questions and support you with answering the questions in a policy application as part of our service. This negates the risk of incorrectly filling out a policy in a rush online and any issues that may arise when you need it.

If you’d like to discuss your business or personal insurance needs with one of our experienced team members, get in touch today.