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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

‘Alarming’ differences between price comparison sites uncovered

UK shoppers are being offered vastly different insurance prices and policies depending on which comparison websites they use, new research has uncovered.

Confusion and inconvenience from price differences ©iStock

The study of Moneysupermarket.com, Confused.com, ComparetheMarket.com and GoCompare.com found price disparities across motor, home, travel and pet insurance.

When searching the cheapest average lifetime pet policies in 2019, for example, the researchers uncovered an £82 price difference between the best deals on offer.  

Data and analytics company GlobalData, which carried out the study, said the findings justify customers searching for policies across multiple platforms.

However, this is thought to be driving confusion and limiting convenience, with customers increasingly looking to compare comparison services.

"While it is no great surprise that prices vary between the sites, the scale of some of the differences is alarming," GlobalData insurance analyst, Ben Carey-Evans, said.

"If consumers feel the need to start checking several sites, or even a comparison site for the comparison sites, then the aggregator’s greatest strength, its speed, will diminish.”

The research shows that the 10 least expensive lifetime pet policies offered by Confused.com in 2019 averaged at £293.50, far lower than ComparetheMarket.com’s £375.52.

But despite offering very different deals, the researchers found that price comparison sites continue to exert great influence over the personal lines sector of insurance.

For example, more than two-thirds of all motor policies were purchased through price comparison websites last year.

This comes amid an ongoing investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) after concerns were raised that some sites are not offering the cheapest deals possible.

“We have found that improvements are needed to help people get better deals," CMA chief executive, Andrea Coscelli, said. "We have set out ground rules for how sites should behave, as well as being clear on how regulators can ensure people have a better experience online.

"We are also taking enforcement action where we suspect the law may have been broken." 

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