Critics say aggregator sites encourage customers to buy on price rather than quality, while high commission charges make them expensive. Last week COMPARETHEMARKET.com was fined £17.9million by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which accused it of banning home insurers on its site from offering cheaper prices elsewhere. So do these sites still stand comparison? COMPARETHEMARKET has disputed the ruling and insists it offers “transparency and choice”, while helping more than six million customers save money over the past year.
Its spokesperson said comparing a wide range of providers and policies in one place saves users up to £283 on car insurance and £108 on home insurance: “For car insurance alone, we compare the cover across more than 90 brands.”
However it does not cover the entire market as some insurers refuse to be listed, notably Adrian Flux, Direct Line and Admiral MultiCar.
Direct Line brands director Kerry Chilvers said: “Sites primarily compare price and not cover levels or product performance.”
The cheapest policy may not necessarily be the right one for you. Chilvers added: “As with most things in life, you get what you pay for.”
Last year GlobalData found price comparison sites can be up to £360 more expensive than going direct, due to hidden commission charges.
Specialist motor insurer Cuvva lists on GoCompare but spokesperson Loren Gould urged drivers to compare results against direct quotes from insurers: “You will often find a better offer tailored to you for the same level of cover.”
Insurer Aviva refused to list on price comparison sites but recently decided to start listing its motor and home policies. Its spokesperson said: “This complements our existing channels, so customers can choose to buy our products in the way that suits them, whether online, direct or through a broker or bank.”
A GoCompare spokesperson said buying insurance through price comparison sites is the best way to ensure you are not being overcharged at renewal. This is also a simpler way to get quotes: “The days of filling in multiple forms across numerous websites are long gone.”
GoCompare pledges its customers will not get a cheaper price by going direct to the insurer. Its spokesperson also pointed out the CMA said last week these sites are “excellent” for consumers, promoting choice and competition.
Andrew Hagger, personal finance expert at MoneyComms, said: “Not every provider is listed because commission costs are expensive. You may be paying more than you need unless you widen your search.”
Hagger said check aggregator results to ensure some of the pre-filled options meet your criteria: “These sites can save you time but cannot always guarantee the cheapest deal.”