Comparison Sites Put To The Test

The Telegraph has been putting four comparison websites to the test, finding out if they always save you money compared with going direct.

The sites they tested were four of the major comparison sites: comparethemarket.com, confused.com, gocompare.com and moneysupermarket.com.

Whilst you may think that comparison sites are designed to save you time and money, there were some interesting results in the limited tests that were conducted:

We tested the four sites on standard home insurance cover based on a three-bedroom home in south London with £50,000 contents insurance. The cheapest policy was from gocompare.com. Its best buy was from Churchill, costing £372.80. But when we contacted Churchill directly with the same details, the same cover was offered for £20 less,at a cost of just £352.80. What’s more, we earned an additional £40 cashback, reducing the total cost to just £312.80, a saving of £60. The same happened with motor insurance.

Interestingly, all the spokespeople contacted from the comparison sites suggested that this was unusual, and gave a variety of reasons for why it might have happened. In the case of comparethemarket.com  (and probably the others, although this wasn’t revealed), they contractually oblige insurers featured on their site to provide them with the best premiums. It gives an insight into what’s going on behind the scenes, with comparison sites trying to ensure they get the best deals to show to their visitors.

Given the results of this limited test,  it would be interested to see it done on a wider scale, to see whether these “discrepancies” occur more often, and it does make me wonder whether the insurers are finding margins extremely tight when dealing with customers coming from comparison sites, so are failing to offer the very best deals through them.

The situation is made all the more confusing by the addition of cashback sites. Add these into the mix, and the saving calculation is made even more difficult.

All in all, I’d say when researching insurance premiums you should try a couple of comparison sites and a few direct providers, and keep an eye on whether you can get cashback into the bargain too. But I’d not get too hung-up about trying to get the very best deal (you’ll never know whether you got it or not!).

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