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.
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