Thursday, 19 March 2009

Car Insurance Comparison Sites – Things to Look Out for

If you own a television, you can't help but notice the car insurance comparison companies bombarding your screen with repetitive adverts. They tend to have an annoying insistence of making sure they're at the front of your mind when you come to do your annual car insurance comparison. But they also provide a valuable service – on the whole. But how do you separate the good car insurance comparison sites from the bad? This is how...

Deciphering Car Insurance Comparison Site Advertising

Most car insurance comparison site advertising hinges on two areas – being the "cheapest" and market coverage. But they can't all be the cheapest can they?! It's "possible" that some sites ask independent researchers to carry out their work at the same time as running a short term deal with an insurer or two – there are external factors that can make them appear cheaper when it counts.

But the fact remains that the car insurance comparison sites are getting to a point where their panels are pretty similar and they're using the same technology. Differences in prices across car insurance comparison sites will come from manipulation of your excess levels and how well they've mapped your details from their site to the insurer's quote engine.

Also be wary of some very careful uses of terminology. One car insurance comparison site has suggested that they compare "over 400 prices". When you think about it, this doesn't mean they're comparing more than 400 insurers, brands or even policies but few people spend the time to think about the message put out by the car insurance comparison companies.

Car Insurance Comparison Panels

There's no doubt that a car insurance comparison site is saving you heaps of time and saving your from repetitive form filling. This in itself is a huge benefit. Each "insurer" on a comparison site's panel represents anything up to a 10 minute time saving for you. But don't be mislead by the number of "brands".

Frequently, insurance companies are actually powering a large number of brands with only marginal differences in prices and policies. Although this provides you with good coverage (as each brand "may" specialise in different types of customer), you shouldn't be misled into thinking you've covered a wide variety of insurers just because you can see lots of logos.

It's also just as important for the car insurance comparison site to provide you with a range of different insurers on their panel. The comparison site should be making sure they have a reputable insurer for as many areas of risk as possible. Otherwise, their car insurance comparison service simply becomes a big brand comparison service.

Anyone with a risk profile which is slightly out of the norm benefits from a varied panel i.e. those who drive a modified or imported car, young drivers or those with a low no claims bonus, those with claims or convictions and so on.

The final area to highlight when using car insurance comparison sites is that you shouldn't be fixated on price alone. Obviously it is very important but it's what you're paying for – value – that counts. There's no point carrying out a car insurance comparison and buying a slightly cheaper policy if it doesn't provide you with the type of cover you're likely to require.

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