Aggregators are down-playing concerns that a recent VAT tribunal ruling could leave the price comparison insurance market with a massive tax bill.

Traditionally, aggregators have been exempt from VAT on the commission and fees received from listing insurers on their panels.

But a ruling last week removed the exemption from aggregator Insurancewide, prompting speculation that aggregators could be stung with huge tax bills.

This week other aggregators, however, seemed confident that their tax status would not change, as they claimed Insurancewide’s model was unusual.

Uswitch commercial manager insurance Ashton Berkhauer said the company was keeping a close eye on the situation, but did not believe the ruling would have any impact on the VAT it paid.

He said: “We will be watching closely and taking advice from our accountants, but we are VAT registered and pay it as and when appropriate.”

Uswitch pays VAT on most of its services except for its motor insurance panel.

Richard Mason, head of insurance at, said the key aspect of the ruling was that Insurancewide had a very different operating model than other aggregators.

He said aggregators had been exempt from the tax because the role they played was considered similar to that of a broker in terms

of collecting detailed information and providing quotes.

Insurancewide did not generate quotes and was considered more of an advertising and marketing vehicle, he said.

“I’m hesitant to say we’ll never have to pay tax, but the ruling won’t contravene our current set-up.”

Moneysupermarket has received a written statement from Revenue and Customs stating its exemption from VAT. However, Mason said he would not be surprised if the government began to look more closely at the issue of taxes and aggregators.

Insurancewide has yet to decide whether it will appeal.