Which car insurance comparison site is the best?

Published:
18 December 2008
Topic:
News,Insurance,Motoring,Car,Car Insurance

Comparison sites are a great way of getting a better deal on all your finances. Independent consumer champion and and freelance journalist, Mike Naylor, reviews six of the biggest car insurance comparison websites and shares his opinion...

Comparison sites are a great way of getting a better deal on all your finances. Car insurance comparison sites save you the hassle of entering your details over and over again on numerous insurance company sites and can quickly help you save money on your insurance. However, no single site covers the whole market and some are better than others. Here we review six of the biggest car insurance comparison sites.

We reviewed beatthatquote, comparethemarket, confused, Gocompare, moneysupermarket and Tescocompare to assess how good they are, taking into account ease of use; appearance; the number of providers included in searches; accuracy of quotes; cheapest premium; the usefulness of the results and their comparison tools.

The best site overall was moneysupermarket.com. Along with comparethemarket, and Gocompare it compares prices from more than 80 providers. Moneysupermarket's car insurance search is not the best looking, but the results were accurate and it is very easy to compare policies. You can also re-quote without having to enter all your details again. Its price promise means that you won't get a cheaper quote by going direct to any of the companies it get quotes from. It also includes customer ratings  and you can opt out of being contacted by third parties, unlike some other comparison sites.

Gocompare and Tescocompare came second overall. Gocompare searches the highest number of providers - 90 in total - looks good and is easy to use. It lets you opt-out of contact from third parties and came second on price with Tescocompare. Gocompare uses star ratings which enable you to specify any particular features you need, such as a courtesy car. It also shows you how closely each policy matches your requirements. Tescocompare compares quotes from the fewest providers, although it asks the most questions to get to the results. That said the site looks good and is very easy to use. Like moneysupermarket, it has a price promise and as with Gocompare and moneysupermarket.com you can compare policies easily.

We used all the sites to compare prices for a single scenario (see below for details). Moneysupermarket.com was the cheapest, marginally, with a quote of £208 from Lloyds TSB, followed by Confused, Gocompare and Tesco all of which came back with quotes of £209, also from Lloyds TSB. The cheapest premium available through beatthatquote and Comparethemarket was from Ibuyeco at £217.

Once you get your results all but Beatthatquote let you compare 4 or 5 policies side by side. This can be a good way of comparing policy excesses and features. Comparethemarket and moneysupermarket.com also let you re-quote without entering your details again.

Comparison sites receive a commission from the insurance company or broker you buy your insurance from. None of the sites were very clear about this. Also not all insurers are included on comparison sites, so you may need to go direct to some insurers to get quotes.

Sites compared - scores

Beatthatquote - 1 star
Beatthatquote was let down by its lack of comparison tools. It also automatically sends on your details to third parties and does not let you opt-out of this. It's coverage is less than average with 50 companies included in searches. It also gave the most expensive quote initially of the six we looked at.

Comparethemarket - 2 stars
Comparethemarket looks good and was easy to use. However it's not clear how many companies it includes in the search as it states it includes,'400 car insurance prices from the top providers'. Its search results are limited initially - only showing the price, but this can be expanded to show more details of what the policy covers. Like moneysupermarket.com it lets you re-quote without entering all your details again. However the price it quoted in the results was cheaper than on the insurer's site. You can opt-out of contact from third parties, but this isn't as easy to find as it could be.

Confused - 2 stars
Confused's site is let down by a poor design and is not as easy to use as some of the other sites. Importantly it does not let you opt-out of information being sent on to third parties. It does allow comparison of policies and it gave the second cheapest quote with Tescocompare and Gocompare.

Gocompare - 3 stars
Gocompare looks good and compares quotes from 90 providers - more than any other comparison site. It does allow you to opt-out of contact by third parties and gave the second cheapest quote with Confused and Tesco. However, it doesn't have a price promise or allow re-quotes. Like most others it does allow users to compare the details of more than one policy at a time.

Moneysupermarket - 4 stars
Moneysupermarket is the best overall. It has very good coverage and compares quotes from 88 insurers and brokers. It was also marginally cheaper than the other sites, based on the scenrio we looked at. Appearance wise, the site is average, but it makes up with its range of comparison features and price promise. It allows you to opt-out of 3rd party contact. It has filters on all headings, includes customer reviews, comparison of up to 5 policies, and re-quotes including changing the car, cover and other options. Its popups are annoying though.

Tescocompare - 3 stars
Tesco's site looks good and is easy to use. However it only includes 30 companies in its search. It also asks the most questions (70 questions) and has more screens than it seems to need. It gave the second cheapest quote and was accurate. It doesn't allow quick re-quotes, but does allow comparisons and the results can be sorted. Importantly, like moneysupermarket.com it has a price promise that means prices won't be cheaper if you go direct to one of the insurers on its site.

Car insurance sites

 Beat that quote

 Compare the market

 Confused

 Go compare

Moneysupermarket

 Tesco compare

Overall score (out of 5 stars) 

1
star

2
stars

2
stars

3
stars 

4
stars

3
stars

Coverage (insurers/brokers included)

50

52

62

90

88

30

Number of questions 

60 

46

64

60

56

70

Accuracy of quotes
(insurer same as site)

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

 Price promise

No

No 

No

No

Yes

Yes

 Cheapest quote from insurer (see scenario below)

£217

£217

£209

£209

£208

£209

Compare policies

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Re-quote

No

Yes

No

No

Yes

No

Filters

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Customer reviews

No

No

No

No

Yes

 No

Opt-out of phone calls

No

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

n/a 

Save quotes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Tips to get the most out of comparison sites

  • Be prepared - have details of your previous insurer and policy document to hand.

  • Tell the truth - if you don't it could mean you aren't covered if you need to make a claim, or you may pay more than you need to.

  • Be truthful and accurate - you need to check the details you enter carefully as small mistakes could mean a much higher or lower premium, or could even invalidate your insurance altogether. For example, over-stating your no claims discount or failing to disclose details of a speeding ticket.

  • Compare like-with-like - make sure you are comparing like-with-like when looking at premiums. You need to ensure you are looking at the same cover. For example, do the policies include the features you need like a courtesy car and are the excesses the same. The excess is the amount you have to pay in the event of a claim, and has a big impact on premiums. The lower the excess, the higher the premium. When comparing policies make sure you are comparing policies with the same excesses.

  • Check information is correct - when you go through to the insurer or broker site check the information is correct. Again, this is very important as mistakes could mean a wrong premium or no cover.

  • Watch out for unwanted phone calls -  some sites will pass your details on to third parties which will contact you by phone or email. These companies may be able to help you get a better deal on your insurance. However if you don't want to be contacted the best sites let you opt-out of receiving these calls.

  • Shop around each year - don't assume that the renewal quote you receive from your current insurer will be the best you can get as it probably won't be. Most insurers offer their best deals to new customers, so it is vital to shop around for the best deal every year.  

How was the research carried out?

Overall score
The overall score takes into account how many companies each site includes in searches, how easy the sites are to use, how they look, the accuracy of quotes, the price from one quote, how the results look and comparison tools.

Coverage
How many brokers or insurers each site includes in its searches.

Number of questions
The number of questions you have to answer to get to the results. You will only get quotes from insurers or brokers that are included on each site. The more questions you answer the more accurate the quotes will be, but the longer it takes.

Accuracy of quotes/Price promise
How accurate were the results and the price quoted by the insurer. Moneysupermarket and Tesco both guarantee that you won't get a cheaper quote by going direct to one of the companies on their sites.

Cheapest quote
The cheapest quote for comprehensive cover with a courtesy car and a £100 voluntary excess based on one quote, see below for full details of the scenario.

Compare policies
With most sites you can compare up to 4 or 5 policies side by side.

Re-quote
Comparethemarket and Moneysupermarket let you get a new quote for different cover, for example, third party instead of comprehensive, or including different cover options by the click of a button.

Filters
The best sites allow you to filter the search results by some or all of the headings in the results table.

Customer reviews
Customer ratings of each insurer could help you choose between two similarly priced policies.

Opt-out of phone calls
Some of the sites pass your details on to third parties who will contact you by phone or email.

Save quotes
All the sites let you save your searches so you can review the results later.

Scenario for quotes
Comparison carried out on November 27 2008
Comprehensive insurance cover
37 year old - Marketing Manager in Manufacturing
5 years - No claims discount not protected
Ford Fiesta 1.25 2000 W
£2,000 value
Social, Domestic and Pleasure, plus Commuting
10,000 miles per year
Alarm and immobiliser factory fitted
Parked on road at home
No motoring convictions
No accidents
Licence held for 20 years
£100 voluntary excess with courtesy car

About the author

Mike Naylor is a freelance personal finance journalist specialising in banking, credit cards, protection and general insurance. He has written articles for national newspapers, books and Which? and Which? Money magazines. He is a passionate consumer advocate and has campaigned on bank charges, PPI and consumer rights while working at Which?. He regularly appears on TV and radio talking about a wide range of personal finance issues.

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