A consumer watchdog is calling for tighter regulation of price comparison sites to make sure customers are being offered the best possible deals.
Research by Which? claims that the price consumers see is not necessarily always the price they get when using aggregator websites for quotes.
It tested 11 of the most popular comparison sites and found many of them using pre-selected answers and assumptions in their online forms.
This may make quotes appear cheaper, but can also lead to basic ‘one size fits all’ policies that could be unsuitable for individual needs or even prove invalid in the event of a claim, the consumer champion said.
Many of the quotes given by the comparison sites during the test excluded extras such as legal cover, a courtesy car or personal injury cover. None of the sites asked up front if these were required.
While on some sites the option to buy these extras was offered at a later stage, on others these extras were automatically added on and needed to be removed if not required, according to the watchdog.
In both cases, adding optional extras resulted in an increase to the original quote offered on the price comparison site.
The research also found that none of the 11 most popular comparison sites covered more than a third of the market for home or travel insurance.
Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: “Price comparison sites claim to do all of the work for you, but our research found if you want to get the best deal you still need to shop around or it could cost you hundreds of pounds.
“Going to the insurer directly may also give you a better quote.”
Mr Lloyd added: “We want to see tougher regulation and monitoring of price comparison sites to make sure they treat customers fairly and transparently.”
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