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Car Insurance Comparison Sites 'rife with errors'

Car Insurance Comparison Sites 'rife with errors'


A new report from Consumer group, Which?, reveals 6 in 10 car insurance policies, listed on comparison websites, have mismatching details with policy documents.

Car insurance comparison sites are ‘rife with errors’ – with 6 in 10 policies providing mismatched details.

Those are the findings of consumer group, Which?, after it cross-checked policy descriptions for 21 different brands across four ‘popular’ comparison websites.

It reported 10 instances of claims, on a comparison site, that the insurer could guarantee a courtesy car should the policyholder’s vehicle need repair, despite policy documentation making no such guarantee. It also discovered other false claims including sunroof cover, incorrect information on key theft and loss, as well as unreliable levels of cover for personal accident claims.

Harry Rose, Which? Money editor, said: “We were staggered to see such a high amount of errors across the policies listed on price comparison sites. Millions of consumers visit these websites, hoping to find all the information they need to make an informed decision in one place – yet our findings cast real doubt on their ability to do so.

“These sites should up their game to ensure customers know exactly what they’re purchasing and from whom, otherwise they might well end up with policies and contracts that simply don’t meet their needs.”

Which? also highlighted a lack of diversity among providers. It discovered in one scenario that the top 30 results were being sold by as few as 12 providers, with small variations in the level of cover by each policy.

Two drivers having an argument over an accident in a car park

It also found different brands represented by one parent company often appeared with only minor price differences. It highlighted a few examples – one of which was Esure and Sheila’s Wheels, both under the Esure umbrella – as appearing with just a small price difference on three different sites, with Admiral Group brands Admiral, Elephant and Diamond appearing in a similar fashion.

A spokesperson for the Association of British Insurers said: “It’s important when buying any sort of insurance that people don’t focus purely on price, but also make sure the levels of cover are appropriate.

“Comparison websites can be a good way of checking what’s available on the market, but it’s also important for customers to look at the policy documents for the cover they’re buying to ensure it meets their needs.”

There has been some defence of comparison sites. Ian Crowder, insurance expert at the AA, said: “Different comparison sites use different algorithms, which can result in price differences, so the fact that there are inconsistencies between sites, where price is the key driver for business, is not surprising.”

However, he warned: “Many insurers strip out benefits from their policies, compared with the policies they sell direct, in order to offer a competitive price on a comparison site. For instance, things that might be taken for granted, such as a hire car provided in the event of a crash, windscreen cover, motor legal assistance or comprehensive cover when driving in mainland Europe, might be excluded, so as a result the buyer may not be purchasing what they expect.”