Price comparison websites compare the price of goods and services which are provided by a range of companies to allow you to make sure you get the best deal possible at the best price. The most well-known sites compare financial products ranging from insurance to energy prices. You can get quotes from specific companies in a few clicks, which allows you to make enquiries regarding what is on offer and what is best for you without having to go through each company separately.
How do price comparison websites work?
Many price comparison websites ask for your preferences and personal details before providing you with the best results, which cater to your specific needs. Others may allow you to search quickly with easy to follow sections known as ‘best buy’ tables. These sections are most commonly available when you are comparing credit cards, as this can be achieved quickly and without too much personal information needed. However, for things that are priced according to your specific set of circumstances, then you will have to provide more details. For instance, if you are trying to find the best car insurance, then you will need to specify the type of car, how many miles you have done as well as your age, address and whether you use the vehicle for business. As a result, you could spend quite a while supplying the information needed to get some relevant quotations.
How accurate are price comparison sites?
As part of their investigation, Which? took into account the information given by price comparison sites regarding car insurance policies on offer and then compared that to the original information listed on the businesses’ websites. They compared seventy-nine in total and out of them forty-eight contained what they described as a discrepancy.
These errors included examples where the price comparison website had claimed that a courtesy car was available on a guaranteed basis. However, when Which? investigated the actual site of the car insurance provider, there was no mention of such a guarantee. Similarly, one price comparison website listed information about sunroof cover being included as part of the insurance, but when this was checked on the website of the provider then no such guarantee was mentioned. Finally, it was discovered that the descriptions of personal accident cover, listed on two price comparison websites, were inaccurate and overstated.
It must be noted that directly comparing the number of times that price comparison websites have been misleading is unfair because different websites use a different amount of detail regarding the insurance policies.
How to find out if a price comparison website is being misleading
It is difficult to know at which point the information is misleading between browsing a price comparison website and purchasing a policy from that website. This is because it may not just be the price comparison website that has supplied misleading information on their site. The information on the price comparison could either be out of date or inaccurate as was discovered by Which? When they contacted a price comparison website, they were informed that they had confirmed the accuracy of the details of their site with the insurer in question.
Similarly, they also discovered that the information on the website of brokers which were listed on price comparison sites and the documents provided with the actual policies on were different. They found that one broker had thirty-one pieces of information about a car insurance policy, which turned out to directly be against their terms and conditions.
Using a Price Comparison Website Effectively
Price comparison websites are not always completely accurate, whether it is the fault of them or the provider of the insurer, and it is sometimes hard to tell whether the information given is correct without doing some more research. However, price comparison websites are a really useful tool because of the number of quotes they can instantly provide about an enquiry specific to you. A large number of internet users will have used a price comparison site and to avoid coming across any misleading information, you should follow these tips.
Firstly, you should use at least one site. This may seem like an obvious tip to give but a huge number of people do not check extra price comparison sites, which is important as you may find the same policy at a different price depending on which price comparison website you use.
You should always never solely rely on the policy details which are on the price comparison sites. These sites will take the necessary steps to make sure that the information shown on their pages is up to date and accurate but errors could always occur. It is best for you to get the main features which are important to you and check these on both the price comparison website and the website of the provider. If you are still unsure then you should contact the provider directly for further details.
It is important for you also to double check if you have made a default search on the price comparison website. Many sites have boxes which a pre-ticked according to the most popular and likely searches on their sites, but this may not be relevant to you. Because of this, you should always check if these boxes are unticked as well as selecting the options which are relevant to you.
Lastly, you should always check the excess when it comes to car insurance companies as some may add voluntary excess on top of their fixed compulsory excess. These voluntary excesses will increase the amount you need to pay if you need to claim but may reduce your premium. It is always best to make sure that the excess applied is one that you’re content with.