Insurers and intermediaries are not being clear that customers will pay more when using credit to buy general insurance products, a review by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has revealed.
It found they did not always provide "clear and easily understandable information" about the overall cost of paying in instalments, as opposed to a lump sum.
The regulator's research focused on home and car insurance and included 13 insurers and 30 intermediaries. Of the 43 websites examined, 19 did not include the total cost of payment by instalments against the cost of upfront payment in the initial stage of the online purchase.
The FCA said consumers could struggle to compare the price difference between the two, or might not have realised the price difference at all.
Linda Woodall, acting director of supervision at the FCA said: "Consumers should expect clear information about the payment options available to them. Regardless of whether people choose to pay upfront or in instalments, it's important that they can see exactly what they are signing up for and how much it costs so they can decide whether they are getting a fair deal."
If a firm provides regulated credit or acts as a credit broker, they are required to provide a representative example containing specific information such as the interest rate, APR and any fees or charges.
But the FCA found a number of cases did not provide a representative example or their example did not include all the required information. For example, 26 firms did not display their interest rate and APR was not displayed in four cases.
The review also found firms did not provide certain details expected by the regulator. For example, those who act as credit brokers did not always disclose the name of the credit provider or details of their relationship with the firm. In some cases it was not clear that a fee would be charged.
The FCA expects firms to consider the findings of the review and take action where necessary. It said it would also follow up with individual firms where it found "specific examples of failings and poor practice".