Price comparison sites are ‘rife with errors’
Consumer group Which? looked at the policies offered on four of the biggest price comparison websites and compared them against the information provided in insurance brands’ own policy documents.
It found mismatching details in six out of 10 policies.
With 85% of internet users having used a price comparison site, Which? said consumers are at risk of purchasing policies that “simply don’t meet their needs”.
Some of the inconsistencies found during the probe into GoCompare, Compare The Market, Confused.com and MoneySuperMarket included:
• Claims that a courtesy car is guaranteed should your car require repair, whereas the policy document made no such guarantee.
• Claims about sunroof cover being included that weren’t reflected in actual policy wording.
• Unreliable levels of cover for personal accident. For example, one example described cover up to £5,000 for disability, but the limit in the policy document was only £2,500.
• Incorrect information about cover for loss and theft of keys.
The Which? research also revealed limited choice on some price comparison sites with different brands from the same parent company often appearing with only a few pence separating them.
For example, Esure and Sheila’s Wheels – both part of Esure, and Admiral, Diamond and Elephant – all part of the Admiral group all appeared in close proximity on three sites with little to choose between them in terms of pricing.
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.”
James Daley, founder of campaign group Fairer Finance, said the report should be a wake call for comparison sites.
“These are complicated products, and the comparison sites put too much focus on helping customers through the journey as quickly as possible. We believe they should be slowing the journey down, making sure that customers buy policies that they understand, and which are suitable for their needs.
“As things stand, insurers shouldn’t be surprised if they end up having to pay claims where they had no intention of doing so. If a case goes to the Ombudsman, they will be looking at exactly what insurers have told customers during the purchase journey – and will give the benefit of the doubt to the customer if there is any ambiguity.”
What the comparison sites say
A spokesperson for Compare The Market, said: “We work with our providers and check that the information provided is accurate. If we discover any discrepancies, this is promptly addressed.”
GoCompare explained it carries out “a series of checks, including verification by our insurance partners. We rely on partners to keep us updated with any changes. We’ll be reviewing our processes to ensure the highest levels of accuracy.
A MoneySuperMarket spokesperson, said: “All the insurance providers we work with have to provide MoneySuperMarket with information on any changes to their level of cover. In addition, every car insurance brand that can quote on our site is audited on a regular basis. If we pick up any inaccuracies we then liaise with the insurance provider to clarify and resolve the issue to ensure there is no customer detriment.”
Confused.com said: “Insurance policy documents can be incredibly complex. We’re constantly reviewing how policy information is displayed to our customers and value the feedback you’ve provided.”