Online insurance comparison websites never give a complete choice of products despite the hundreds of options available.
They work by matching car, life or home and contents insurance cover and price to your answers to some key questions about your personal and financial circumstances.
But two factors affect the information displayed on your screen after a search:
- Your answers to the questions the site asks
- Who provides the information for the comparison database
Make sure the information you type in to the online form is as accurate as possible or the response you get will not reflect the right cover or the correct price.
Next, you need to know how the comparison site works to consider if the policy suggestions are the best available on the market for you.
Some web sites ‘scrape’ others; this means they carry no data and merely act as affiliates or agents for other sites. They make their money from carrying advertising or picking up a commission when you click on a link to another site.
Special interest organisations, such as the AA, and various banks and building societies, are often tied brokers who offer products from a limited range of providers. They are paid a commission on sales.
Other large comparison sites may source products from hundreds of suppliers and may often promote their own exclusive offers. They are financed from a mix of advertising, click through and commission payments.
Don’t forget insurance firms like Aviva and Direct Line deliberately refuse to let comparison sites take their product information, so you can never be sure the information on your screen represents the best deal for you.
The small print in the insurance comparison web site terms and conditions should explain how the firm sources information.
Lastly, many insurance brands are just that: badges stuck on the front of other insurance products offered by the big providers.
Again, the website small print should identify the provider, but you may have to scour the site to find out. For instance, Axa backs Marks & Spencer insurance and Saga life insurance for the over-50s is provided by PruProtect, part of the Prudential.
The best advice is to shop around and not to simply rely on the size of the company’s marketing budget. Similarly car insurance brokers can have some great deals and tend to offer more in the way of customer service.