/ Motoring

Have you spotted incorrect info on comparison sites?

Our recent mystery shop has revealed some comparison sites are giving unreliable information on car insurance. Just how accurate are these sites?

With so many companies offering a wide range of quotes, the world of insurance can be a confusing one. In fact, I think it’s fair to say that taking out insurance policies can often feel like a bit of a chore.

Like with so many avenues of life, we’re always on the lookout for anything that can seemingly make our lives easier, and insurance comparison sites claim to do just that.

When there are plenty of providers to choose from, we need to be able to compare them quickly and, crucially, accurately.

Multiple choice

Somewhat ironically, there are plenty of comparison sites to choose from these days – but how much should we be trusting the results they return?

When we put them to the test, we found some cause for concern – in six out of 10 policies there were discrepancies between the information on the comparison sites and what was in the insurer’s policy.

In one case, a comparison site appeared to overstate a provider’s disability cover by as much as £2,500!

What are your experiences?

According to the Competition and Markets Authority, as many as 85% of people on the internet have used a comparison site at least once.

With that in mind, it seems a number of you here on Which? Conversation are also likely to have used their services in an attempt to quickly locate the best deal. So what are your experiences?

When it comes to car insurance, we’d recommend not relying on the policy details published on the comparison sites themselves. Instead, be sure to directly check the details that matter to you most on the insurer’s website itself. If there are any clashes or ambiguities, contact the provider for clarification.

I’m curious to find out just how much users trust the quotes and information they get back, or if you feel more research is required.

Have you ever spotted similar discrepancies to what we found in our investigation? If so, how did you resolve the issue with the insurer?

Comments
Member

I have looked at price comparison sites in the past but in the case of motor insurance I wanted to explore various options such as adding another person to insurance and checking that use of my car in connection with charity work was covered. At the moment I’m with NFU Mutual and they have an office in town, so it’s easy to pop in for a chat.

I might have a look at house insurance on a price comparison site next year. In my previous home, the insurance industry decided that I was in a flood risk area, being close to a river and I could find only two companies that would offer a quote.

I wonder who funds price comparison websites and if their comparisons are restricted to selected insurers.

Member

Some insurers like Aviva and Direct Line will not appear on comparison sites so it’s worth checking the results from a comparison website search with one of those.

I get the impression that comparison websites spend more money on marketing themselves than the insurance companies do.

Policy-holders pay for the commission that the websites earn. I am not convinced that comparison websites have brought down the overall cost of insurance; in reducing headline premiums they have opened the door to the government imposing a tax on them and raising the percentage from time to time. It started at 5%, was raised to 8% and is now 10% [and 20% for travel insurance]. Moreover, in competing to offer the cheapest terms for basic policies as driven by the comparison websites insurance companies have had to raise the premiums, or reduce the cover, or both, on additional risks and specialist cover.

Member

I had forgotten that Direct Line et al. don’t feature in these sites but that is what encouraged me to give them a go. I did not know about the taxation.

The reason I leave insurance companies is generally price hikes.

Member

Apart from Which?Switch that I’ve used to select a new energy provider and switch I might only use other sites to get an idea of the best companies, for insurance say. Then I would go direct to the selected one(s) for quotes and to arrange the insurance, including good ones I already knew of.

Member

@dsobers HI Dean – Has Which? made details of its investigations available to the Financial Conduct Authority? As a consumer I would expect price comparison to be kept up to date and accurate in other respects.

Member

Have just dropped Dean an email on this one.

Member

Hi @wavechange. Thanks for your query. We have indeed shared our report with the FCA, and also the Competition and Markets Authority.

Member

Thanks very much Dean – and George. It will be interesting to know if either organisation provides a useful response.

Member
Patrick Taylor says:
24 August 2018

As in almost everything discussions like this might be improved by looking at how other countries operate in controlling rogue information on sites. The UK cannot be unique in having multiple online companies quoting for contractural purposes.

Just as an aside this makes interesting reading even if it is slightly out of date
insuranceeurope.eu/sites/default/files/attachments/European%20motor%20insurance%20markets.pdf

I am familiar with car insurance , I worked at a small village brokers, I know it is a complex area much misunderstood. Which? is great for looking at cheap deals and getting you to do the legwork but there is actually a value in brokers who after all work for you and really want your custom and will be on your side when coming to present the best case to the insurers.

Getting the cheapest cover with cars is really a matter of where that company is shaving costs, extent of cover, high excesses, certain insurances they will not do, resistance to paying claims, high fees for paperwork etc etc.

There are quality companies which do get mentions here such as LVFS , NFU, and possibly Arriva but for most of the public they do not appreciate this.

Member

One of my cars is insured through a broker. Each year they review available insurers and recommend that, or those, that best suit my needs. They have recommended two or three changes over the years and this year virtually halved my premium.

One son also uses a broker and they have been especially useful in ensuring that any car modifications were included. They were also very competitive (A Plan). When someone ran into the back of his car, causing a little damage but not disastrous, they ensured his car went to a specialist for the model and had it collected and delivered by truck even though it was driveable.

Member

I would not insure with Arriva’ Patrick. If you had an accident you might get a bus ticket rather than a courtesy car. 🙂

I’m quite happy with NFU for car and breakdown insurance. They don’t seem to reward loyalty with a price hike, as some of the others do.

Member

Loyalty is a myth in most cases. We know that. Be prepared to negotiate new terms or change each year.

Member

I gave up doing that years ago. I just shop around and then phone the old company to say that I have arranged cover elsewhere. They generally say that I should have contacted them to discuss prices and I say, politely, that I’m not keen on companies that hike prices for loyal customers who have not made a claim.

Member

My car insurance is currently up for renewal and I wasn’t surprised to see that it’s gone up again. Especially frustrating given that I’m another year older with another year’s no claims. I’ll give them a call and it’ll come down, but I’ll likely use a comparison site to see if there are any better deals out there, especially as the company I’m with says it’ll price-match on a like-for-like policy. But after what Dean has found here, I’ll definitely be keeping a close eye on the details.

Member
June Viveash says:
26 August 2018

Has anyone looked at the difference in the standing charges of the suppliers of gas and electricity.
Is it included in the quotes or are these hidden charges
June

Member

You should see standing charges separately from unit charges. If you use Which?Switch to list the total costs of all suppliers for your energy usage and click on “more info” for any supplier, this will show them

Member
DerekP says:
26 August 2018

In my experience quotes give this information.

But I’ve not found any general rules about whether or not I need to go for high or low standing charges – it just depends on what each supplier is offering for me.

Member

What matters is the total (estimated) quote for your annual usage. Whether that has high unit charges and low or nil standing charge, or low unit charges and high standing charges really seems immaterial.

However, if your annual estimate is iffy, and could vary substantially from what you think, put in the extreme ranges of your estimated usage to see what effect it has.