Price comparison websites have helped consumers tremendously over the past few decades. In this guide we’re going to look at how these sites work and how to use them effectively when shopping for energy, insurance, money and more. We’ll also touch on other aspects such as what you need to avoid when comparing products.
What is a price comparison website?
To put it simply, price comparison sites do exactly what the name implies. They help you compare products and services from a large variety of companies and filter them by price. Sites like Utility Saving Expert even go one step further by donating a portion of their profits to help fight fuel poverty across the UK, enabling customers to save money and help towards a good cause.
These types of sites are available for many different types of consumer goods. Although, the most popular ones are used by customers to compare energy, insurance, credit cards and loans etc.
You will enter a few details into an online form and this will provide you with quotes from a large number of companies in one go. This allows you to quickly compare products and services from leading providers and smaller firms alike without having to complete multiple forms individually, saving you a lot of time and hassle.
Typically, there are two types of sites to choose from. Some will present products in a ‘best buy’ recommended table, while others will ask you to input details about your needs, and provide you with more personalised results. You’ll want to opt for the latter of the two.
Finance products such as credit cards and loans can easily be compared without inputting any information. However, energy and insurance products for your car or home will require you to provide more information. By disclosing these extra details, your personal circumstances will be accounted for to present you with options that are available to you. For example, if you’ve had points on your driving license, not all car insurance providers will be able to give you a quote. Or if your property is a listed building, you will only be shown prices from those providers that cover these types of properties.
Here are some of the questions you can expect when searching for car insurance quotes:
- Your age
- Home address
- Car make and model
- Registration plate and mileage
- Past driving history including any convictions
- Number of years without making a claim
Most products will roughly take you around 10 minutes to compare. Before these websites existed, you would have to call each company one after another to see what they were able to offer you. For many people, this meant only getting three to four quotes and going with the cheapest.
To use price comparison websites in the most effective way, we recommend using more than one. This is because not every site compares the entire energy and insurance industry. It’s also worth noting that companies such as Aviva and Direct Line have opted out of being featured on these sites. So you may wish to contact them directly to see what they’re able to offer you.
Check your preferences
You could reduce your premium by changing some of the details such as voluntary excess or payment method.
A voluntary excess is the amount you will pay on top of your standard excess when you make a claim. Most insurance providers will lower your premium if you choose to increase this. Choose an amount you’re comfortable with as you will be expected to pay this upon pursuing a claim.
Similarly, you can also decrease your costs by choosing to pay for your policy in one lump sum rather than monthly instalments, helping you get a better deal.
Quality vs cost
It’s no secret that not all policies are the same, even those that offer like for like cover will differ depending on the company’s reputation for customer service and paying out on claims. For most consumers, quality will be just as important as cost. Cheapest isn’t necessarily the best and value for money plays a more important role in the purchasing decision.
Cheaper insurance will normally cover you for the absolute basics, if you’re looking for additional features and benefits on your new policy, a more comprehensive option will be far more suitable. Often, these fully comprehensive policies won’t cost you that much more. You can quickly use the filters on the comparison site to see the difference in price.
Aspects that many customers should look out for include customer service, claims handling and company history.
What to avoid when comparing products
Do not assume that you’re getting the same quality and level of cover when comparing similar products. Before proceeding it’s a good idea to read the policy terms and conditions, this will also outline any limitations and exclusions, along with other varying excesses you will be expected to pay in the event of a claim.
Some sites may pre select an option for you as this may be a very popular response. For example, if you’re asked about any previous criminal convictions or if your property has had any flooding in the last 10 years, by default this may be set to ‘no’. Double check that all the information is correct before moving on.
Do not provide false information. Entering the wrong details to get a cheaper quote will have a negative outcome. This is because insurers can refuse to honour any claim you make and your policy will be invalid.
We hope this information helps you use price comparison websites more effectively in the future. Allowing you to save time and get the best value for money.