The Price Comparison Game
Everyone loves a bargain and we Brits have become fanatical about getting the best possible price when shopping for holidays or insurance, TVs or washing machines. To satisfy this demand any number of price comparison sites have sprung up offering to get you the best deal; this allows you to make sure you get a deal that's tailored to you at the best price. However, finding the best deal isn't always as simple as it sounds.
Some price comparison sites allow you to search for products via simple 'best buy' tables but others ask you questions about your preferences and for personal details, and then provide you with personalised results. Personal loans and credit cards, for example, can be quickly compared on screen. However, to get car, home and travel insurance, you'll need to disclose more information, as these are priced, and change in line with your circumstances.
No single price comparison site trawls the entire market for the very best financial products in every category, so it’s best to search several websites before choosing which product to take out. Also, be aware that some financial product providers choose not to be featured on any price comparison sites. The likes of Direct Line and Aviva won't be included in any comparison site search results, even if they might offer the most suitable deals for you; so, it’s well worth checking individual providers as well.
The amount of excess (a sum of money you pay towards your insurance claim) you set for your insurance policy or choosing whether to pay your premiums monthly or annually can have a huge impact on the quotes you are offered. Always check that these details are appropriate, and if you’re happy to increase your excess or pay for an insurance policy in one annual lump sum, you could be offered a better deal.
The cheapest deals don’t always rise to the top! Paying monthly rather than annually makes a huge difference. For car insurance, paying monthly can add up to 44%, and for home cover almost 50%. Keep an eye out for unwanted extras as well. Free extras can make providers stand out in a list of comparison site results, and they can be a perk - if you understand the deal. However, policies with add-ons that were free for a year, then automatically renew at a cost to the customer, unless they specifically ask to cancel. Worse, there are also examples of price comparison sites adding on extras at an additional cost to the consumer that were never asked for.
Quality is as important as cost, so focus on getting value for money, not the cheapest deals, when you buy products. Low-cost insurance policies, for instance, are unlikely to include perks such as a replacement hire car in the case of an accident. In a tight spot, you might appreciate benefits like this even if they cost a little more.
I love comparison sites, but I always check, check and check again before clicking the buy button. The choice as always, is yours, but if you need help making that decision, you know where to come.
Added: 7th June 2019