Consumer group claims better deals are available direct from insurers and points out differences between sites’ cheapest quotes.
Price comparison websites have hit back at a report from Which?, the consumer group, that claims customers can get better deals if they go direct to an insurer.
The report cited an example of a Bradford & Bingley home contents policy that cost £68 on the insurer’s website, but was listed for £72 on Moneysupermarket.com, £83 on Confused.com and up to £100 on Gocompare.com.
The study by Which? Money, which is available at www.which.co.uk, also found that in most cases, the cheapest quote was different on each website. When searching for a home contents policy, the cheapest quote varied from £51 on Gocompare.com to £71 on Confused.com.
But Carlton Hood, chief executive of Confused.com, said: “It was unfortunate that was the one quote they decided to do and perhaps if they had shown some others, it would have been a different story.
“We audited 900 quotes last month and it didn’t match in about 4% of cases, which we follow up. So the report felt a bit unrepresentative.”
Hood said possible reasons for any price difference include a software glitch or failure of a partner to notify Confused.com of any changes. He added that Confused.com would immediately address the price difference on the home contents policy in question.
Hayley Parsons, chief executive of Gocompare.com, said: “The Gocompare.com service combines extensive market coverage and a clear display and explanation of the comparison results.
“There are various reasons why Which? may have found quotes differed from site to site. Some sites don’t compare as many insurers or products as we do. Therefore the search results would be different. It’s also worth pointing out that this research is nearly two months out of date and, since then, we’ve added more insurers and products.”
Hood said the report from Which? did not give the websites, known as aggregators, the kudos they deserve.
But Parsons said the report did demonstrate the value of their services: “Which? has shown that comparison websites are an essential service which can save consumers hundreds if not thousands of pounds. One of the real-life case studies in the Which? investigation saved over £1,100 a year by using a comparison website to search for home insurance.”
A Which? spokesperson said: “Comparison sites advertise themselves on the basis that consumers only need to go to one site and it will shop around for them to find the best deal. Our snapshot survey compared five different financial products, on three of the largest comparison sites, and found that this isn’t the case, but most consumers will only check one site. Which? Money recommends that people use comparison sites as a starting point, but that they check two or three and also check directly with providers.”