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How to choose the right car insurance for you

price comparison websites don’t always offer you the best deals

Price comparison websites, also known as aggregators, are popular with people looking to find cheap car insurance. They seem to offer a quick and easy way to shop around for the best insurance deals.

When it comes to the annual decision to renew or switch insurers, many people just want to find the cheapest car insurance as quickly as possible. But if you want the right level of cover to protect you and your vehicle, you should be aware of the limitations of these websites.

How do price comparison websites work?

Price comparison websites make money through advertising, highlighting specific products from companies that have paid for the privilege of appearing at the top of search results, and commission or affiliate fees — meaning they get paid when customers click through to an insurance company’s website to buy a policy.

Although car insurance comparison sites provide a range of options, they don’t include every policy or every supplier. Some insurers might have exclusive deals with a comparison website, meaning the price you are quoted can depend on where you find it as much as your individual circumstances.

You should also be aware that some major insurance companies, including ourselves, don’t appear on price comparison websites so search results will only offer a limited range of available policies.

To ensure insurance premiums appear low in search results to attract online shoppers, the search criteria may default to a high excess (the first amount payable by you in the event of a claim), or not include features that you might expect as standard — such as a courtesy car following an accident or cover while driving abroad.

Should I go direct to an insurer for a car insurance quote?

Ian Flower, one of our car insurance experts, says it’s worth speaking direct to an insurer, adding: “If you need car insurance with adequate cover then having a conversation with an insurer will help explain exactly what you’re paying for — then you can make an informed choice.”

Some questions to ask an insurer are:

  • How much excess will I have to pay?
  • What levels of no claims discount am I entitled to?
  • Do you charge for mid-term adjustments?
  • What is the interest rate for paying in instalments by direct debit?
  • Is breakdown assistance included?
  • Does the policy include motor legal protection (which offers access to legal advice)?
  • Will I have the same level of cover when driving in Europe?
  • Will I be given a courtesy car following an accident?

Ian added: “Some comparison sites might offer cheap premiums at the outset but insurers can add on fees for ‘extras’ you may have thought would be included. All of a sudden that policy isn’t quite as cheap as it first appeared.

“But don’t just compare prices, compare the policies and services you’re paying for. This is the only way to ensure you get the best deal that’s right for you.”

Check out industry awards and customer reviews

To get an independent view about an insurer, finding out what their customers say about them and the awards they’ve won can speak volumes.

Organisations such as Auto Express hand out Driver Power awards for customer satisfaction while Defaqto gives an independent rating of car insurance policies, which are just two of the awards and industry ratings we have for our car insurance.