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What’s the best way to buy insurance?

When it comes to buying insurance, shopping around is the best way to make sure you don’t pay an arm and a leg. But what’s the best way to buy? Through a comparison site, a broker, or by going direct to the provider?

We ran a test by getting insurance quotes to cover six scenarios – a high-risk and a low-risk policy for car, home and travel insurance. We gathered them via the top five comparison sites, the top five brokers and the top five insurance providers in each category. We also drew up minimum cover levels that the quotes had to meet.

So, comparison sites gave us the cheapest quotes in all six scenarios, sometimes quoting half as much as when we went to the providers direct. On the other hand, going direct to providers on the phone generated the most expensive quotes on five out of six occasions.

Going for broke?

Brokers came up with a few surprises. We expected them to be a bit pricier than the other ways of buying, but we also thought they’d be able to service our high risk scenarios more easily.

However, it turned out that no brokers could quote for our high risk car insurance scenario (a 20-year-old male living in a high-crime area driving a brand-new Ford Focus). On top of that, only one broker met the criteria for our high-risk home scenario, which was in an area with high burglary rates and flood risk.

Brokers fared better with high-risk travel insurance (an elderly person with a medical condition), with four out of five brokers meeting the criteria. This could be because medical conditions require more complex underwriting, so speaking to a broker can get down to the nitty gritty.

Comparers beware

But comparison sites might not be all they’re cracked up to be. We obtained two sets of quotes – the first just taking their default cover, and then the second where we adjusted the cover levels to match our criteria. We did this as some people will assume the quotes they get will cover their basic needs. However, we found that in some cases, the policies initially quoted didn’t offer this.

I’d expect my car insurance policy to cover windscreen damage – but four of the thirty quotes we obtained from comparison sites didn’t include that as standard, meaning the consumer would have to pay extra.

So it looks like annoying meerkats aren’t the only downside of using comparison sites – make sure you check the cover levels before you buy your insurance. Are you a price comparer, or do you prefer to get your quote straight from the horse’s mouth? Do you use brokers for your more complicated insurance needs?

What do you think is the best way to buy insurance?

From a comparison site (36%, 53 Votes)

It depends on the type of insurance (32%, 47 Votes)

Going direct to the insurance provider (24%, 35 Votes)

Through a broker (9%, 13 Votes)

Total Voters: 148

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I’d use any means necessary to get a quote, then see if a cashback site is offering anything for the company with the cheapest quote, then go thru there, and hoping that the new quote isn’t more than the one I’ve just got.

Just had a renewal quote from Aviva for £330, tried comparison sites and avoided the really small companies so nothing any better there. So got a quote from Direct Line which was £30 cheaper. Then went back to Direct Line via quidco, got £65 cashback on a deal. So in total saved £95 Now just have to see when the £65 turns up.

That’s some sterling cashback work – I used to use cashback sites all the time but I’ve fallen out of the habit a bit now. I’m kicking myself having read your comment as I’ve just renewed my home insurance and forgot to look for cashback. Still, I’ll put a note in my diary for next year…

I got the free Quidco extension for Chrome after missing out on cashback, now I get a little popup every time I am on a site that tells me I could get some cashback. Fingers crossed I will get a bargain with it.

Nice William I do the same and use Quidco for cash back, I use the comparison engines to find some of the best deals, then go straight to the suppler, i.e AXA as they offer a brokerage service too, get my quote again direct which usually works out cheaper than the engines and then check cash back sites. 3 phases for cheaper insurance works every time.

It can be a little time consuming sometimes but well worth the saving, I’ve started looking at building a app to do this for me, which would be pretty cool and save so much time and money

I have used a broker for my house insurance since purchsed my home 36 years ago, no problems but the insurer is AVIVA and I have been looking at John Lewis and they are coming in £50 lower than my latest broker quote and the cover looks better. They are also number 3 on WHICH. My problem is a bit scared to veer away from broker.