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Can Car Insurance Comparison Sites Really Find You a better Deal?

Confused by car insurance comparison sites

in Car Insurance

We’ve all seen the annoying adverts on TV. You may even have brought your car insurance through them. But do car insurance comparison sites like Confused.com, GoCompare and MoneySupermarket really save you money?

For anyone who remembers the world before the internet its fair to say that finding car insurance was a painful process, involving making lots of phone calls to different providers if you wanted to find a deal, or higher renewal costs if you didn’t want the hassle. It was inevitable that most car insurance purchases would eventually happen online and, as with any high value financial product, it was also inevitable that middlemen would want to get a slice of the action. As is always the case, as soon as a middleman is involved costs go up – because the middleman wants to take his cut and thats got to be paid for somehow. Although the insurance game has always had middlemen in the form of brokers, comparison sites have become major forces in the insurance market, especially when it comes to car insurance. So, while they undoubtedly come in handy, do car insurance comparison sites actually save you money?

Well the short answer is no. Insurance premiums are going up, not down, car insurance has certainly not got any cheaper since comparison sites started coming online and as more players entered the insurance comparison market, and more people looked to compare before buying their car insurance, the price has continued to rise. That’s not to say the comparison sites cause increased premiums directly – the economics of insurance is a complex beast after all, but its also not fair to say that car insurance is any cheaper because of comparison services. What the comparison sites claim is that they can save you time and money by showing you quotes from a large portion of the market at once, allowing you to find the best deal without going to separate sites or phoning around.

That may be the case but no comparison sites compares the whole market, instead they work with an often small sample of sites who are willing to pay a commission on customers they refer. That means it costs an insurer more to cover you if you come to them via a comparison site. That doesn’t mean they jack the prices up automatically but comparison culture has meant insurers earn less on premiums and has to at least on some level of contributed to the rising cost of insurance.

So how do I get the best deal?

The moral of the story isn’t that car insurance comparison sites are evil. Lets face it none of us want to spend hours phoning around trying to save £50 on our insurance renewal so the idea of putting in your details once and receiving a load of quotes is a good one. You should take precautions though:

  • Don’t rely on one comparison site. For the widest view of the market use 2 or 3 comparison sites side by side.
  • Write down the 3 cheapest insurers which come up on the comparison sites but don’t click through from the comparison site, instead go to Google and search directly for the insurers own website and either phone them or re-enter your quote details on the insurers own site. Sometimes you’ll get an identical price, sometimes higher and sometimes lower. It takes a few extra minutes but its well worth doing.
  • If you can face talking to a call centre drone that’s by far the best option. let them take your quote details and when they give you the price tell them that your renewal was cheaper than the price they’ve quoted. In our research most call centres offered a further discount off the quote when they sensed they were about to lose the sale. If you want to continue shopping around ask for a direct number to speak to the agent again and a reference number to save you going through all your quote details again if you choose to phone back.
  • Hardcore money savers should also check out any special deals advertised in the backs of newspapers or on TV – these are probably only available if you go direct.
  • Its also worth checking out insurers like Aviva and Directline who make a big thing of the fact they’re not on price comparison sites. For certain groups of drivers the special deals these insurers offer for customers who come to them directly often offset the higher premiums they tend to have.
  • Before you commit to any new policy phone up your current insurer and tell them you’ve found a better quote than their renewal and ask if there’s anything they can do to match the quote or beat it. If they offer to match the quote its worth staying with the same insurer just to avoid the hassle of switching, assuming the rest of the policy matches up like for like.
  • If you don’t find anything cheaper go back and click through the comparison site links and buy your insurance that way.

So can comparison websites save you money on car insurance? Yes and no. They can save you time in searching for the best deals. They check more sites than any normal person would be bothered to check manually giving you a better shot at a deal but serious money savers can probably save a few extra quid by going direct to the insurers rather than following links from the comparison site.

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