Regulator finds significant improvements but some concerns.

The FSA's further review of insurance comparison websites has found that many sites had made significant improvements to their operations.

The regulator said aggregrators were generally providing clear, fair and not misleading information, but some firms needed to go further to address a few specific concerns.

The FSA visited a sample of the firms responsible for the 17 websites that were assessed during the initial review and found that many of them had improved their websites and processes.

However, the FSA identified two specific areas where some firms need to make further improvements. These were: obtaining better information from insurers about the level of excesses that apply to insurance policies; and making more clear the assumptions about consumers' needs and circumstances that some websites use to obtain quotes.

In addition, the regulator carried out a review of aggregator firms’ advertising and found the vast majority of firms had clear, fair and not misleading adverts. In a small number of cases, the FSA found a lack of clarity in some of the terms used, and adverts which could give consumers a misleading expectation of the firm’s market coverage and the amount they could save on insurance premiums.

Dan Waters, the FSA’s director of retail policy and conduct risk, said: “We are pleased that firms have made improvements in the information they provide. But it is imperative that all comparison websites provide clear information so that consumers can make informed decisions. We have contacted all websites involved in our review, to set out our findings and the standards we expect. Where needed, we are requiring firms to take prompt action to address our remaining concerns.

“We would certainly encourage people to shop around to find the best insurance deal for them, and recognise that many people use comparison websites to do this. It is important to reiterate that people should compare what is covered by a policy, to ensure that it meets their requirements, and not just focus on the price.”

The FSA has given detailed feedback to the firms it visited and written to all other websites involved in the review. As appropriate, it requires firms to take any remedial action necessary to ensure that website users are consistently treated fairly.

The regulator said it would continue to keep these sites under review to make sure that they take steps to meet the standards it expects, and will take direct action if firms fail to do so.