Comparison Sites Aren’t Always The Best Option

Compare the Meerkat

So you’re looking to insure your car/life/home etc., where’s the first place you look?

You probably log on to the interweb, try to avoid Facebook and Twitter for a few seconds, and type in something like to get a load of generic cheap quotes for said car/life/home insurance, which in many cases will be precisely what you need.

The problems start when you’re looking for “non-standard” cover.

For example, we’ve just had our renewal notice through for our home insurance. Unfortunately, our house suffered from a little subsidence in the past, which is something that normally has to be declared when applying for home insurance. So if we try to compare home insurance prices, this either means ticking  a box on the comparison site to say we’ve had subsidence, which then prevents us from getting a comparison quote online, or you have to go through the process wondering whether we’d actually be covered should subsidence cause our house to fall down.

Of course, we wouldn’t lie on the application, as non-disclosure (basically lying about your situation on your insurance application) is one of the biggest reasons for insurers not to payout, and you’re probably better off not taking out insurance in the first place, than trying to outwit the insurers. But sometimes certain exclusions will be included in the terms and conditions (or “small print”), and if you were to miss these when applying online, again, you could find yourself without cover at a crucial moment.

This leaves us with the option of ringing around for comparison quotes, and in this particular case, we’d probably have to provide each insurer with a copy of the structural survey we had done when we bought the house (which thankfully says we should have no further problems, and previous insurers have accepted this). Rather than have this hassle, we decided to settle with the premium offered by our current insurer.

With each type of insurance there are several reasons why getting cover might not be as straightforward as getting a quote from a comparison site, here are a few examples:

Home Insurance

  • If your home has a history of subsidence
  • If you own a historic or unusual property

Life Insurance

  • If you’ve got certain health problems (e.g. diabetes, heart problems)
  • If you do a risky job (oil rig worker, diver etc)
  • If you take part in high risk pastimes (pot holing, climbing)

With life insurance, you may be able to get a quote without declaring any of the above, but you’ll have to declare them when you apply, and you’ll more than likely see your premium increase compared to your original quote, if the insurer will insure you at all.

Car insurance

  • If you’ve had any driving convictions
  • If you’ve made modifications  to your car

These are of course just a few examples for a few types of insurance, but of course there are many more.

What it means is that you should always check the small print when getting quotes online, and if you think there is anything unusual about your insurance requirements, it can be better to speak to a broker or insurance company directly to get advice, rather than risking your cover to the vagaries of a comparison site.

Not so simples after all, is it?

Creative Commons License photo credit: simon_redwood

4 thoughts on “Comparison Sites Aren’t Always The Best Option

  1. Good article.

    As someone who works for a website that offers financial comparison, even I have to acknowledge that some people still need to consult a specialist broker or speak to an insurance company direct.

    Anyway, good stuff.


  2. I agree with Ed – shopping around yourself is always adviseable as is picking the phone up. Sometimes if you tell companies what you have been offered they might undercut it.

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