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Clare Francis: Shopping around for car insurance can save you an average £157 according to independent research and moneysupermarket has recently made some changes to its insurance channel to make it even easier for you to find the best deal.
Well Steve Sweeney who is head of car insurance is with me, just to talk us through what changes we have done, why we have done them and also then to walk you through the process of what you will need when you look for a car insurance quote.
Q1: So Steve can you just explain a bit about what we have done recently to the motor channel?
Steve Sweeney: Yes, we do a lot of analysis on the motor channel is the first thing to say, so we take a look at every single question - not just the question but also the help that is around that particular question - and following feedback through our own data but also feedback from our customers we have chosen to make some changes and tweaks to how we present some of the questions, and also how some of the questions work and then around some of the help as well, so that is predominantly what we have done throughout the question set itself.
Q2: So when you come onto the site its not going to look radically different, its just subtle things that should hopefully ease the process of getting a quote?
SS: Yes, exactly right. So there are a couple of areas that we felt could be better for our customers: the way customers find their occupation for example, postcode and perhaps most importantly the vehicle itself. We have an automated facility - a vehicle look up facility - where you tap in your registration; we have just made that a little bit slicker really to ensure that the customer gets the speediest response really. So all throughout the question set we have just made a lot of improvements is probably the best way to describe it.
Q3: And then one bit of new functionality that has been added is the option to phone the insurer, rather then apply online. Can you just explain a bit about that?
SS: Yes, this is a really big development for us first of all. There are a number of people out there and me included when I first used moneysupermarket, where I just had a question in mind that I really wanted to ask the insurer.
So I had done my question set, I got my results table, I had found an insurer that I was comfortable going with, but I just had a question I needed to ask and what the phone call facility is all about is allowing you to call that insurer. You can then continue to transact online or you can transact over the telephone.
So how the facility works is, you are on our results table, instead of clicking our 'Go to site' button to continue your online journey, you can click a 'Call' button, a pop-up comes up which explains the telephone number of the call centre for the insurer that you have chosen - there will be a reference number on there, you simply give the call centre a call, quote the reference number and then the telephonist on the other end will know who you are, you can ask the question that you have got and then you can either transact online or ring another insurer or continue on your online journey, it's as simple as that.
Q4: The thing that the internet and comparison sites in particular have done is they have just made that whole process of getting a quote so much easier, because in the old day you would have to ring a broker or ring insurers direct.
We now compare more than 100 providers which is just massive - it's such a huge proportion of the market, more then any other comparison site - but can you just explain, if I am coming to moneysupermarket, I want a quote for my car insurance - what piece of information do I need to have to hand, what will I be asked?
SS: Ok, you are going to be asked a series of questions first. The easy ones I guess, are about you and where you live - the more difficult questions are about the car that you drive or the car that you are about to drive because it could be a new car.
Probably where it get a little bit more complex is if you have got a more complicated driving history, so if you have had any motoring convictions, maybe a speeding fine or something like that, so if you answer yes to a motoring conviction question you will then be asked to provide more details. Or if you have an accident perhaps, then you will be asked about details of that accident, and really the question set is designed to give the insurer as much information about you as possible to give you the best price, that's why we are asking the questions.
So when you are asked to present with the results table it's a policy that is going to be tailored to you and your needs based on the circumstances you have.
Q5: So it is vital to be as accurate as possible! There maybe things that you are not quite sure about for example if you have had an accident - the exact date it happened on or something like that - does that matter or do you have to go back into history and find out the exact day and date or can you be rough, September '07 or something?
SS: Yes, its really important that you get everything as accurate as possible what we are trying to do is we are trying to pass you to the right insurer for you and what we want to try and do is get the story exactly correct for that particular insurer so when you do get passed to that insurer its easy just to buy the actual policy.
What we don't want is a series of further questions or the insurer having to ring you up to confirm the details etc., so the more information you can fill out it means you only have to do it once really rather then twice at the insurers end so it is important to answer the questions as accurately as you possibly can - and that includes dates I'm afraid.
Q6: And the risk of not doing so is that you invalidate your insurance, so if you do unfortunately have to make a claim, potentially the insurer can turn that claim down?
SS: Yes, so lets say you have had a bump a 12 months ago and it was a bump that was the customers fault and that is not put down in the question set or divulged to the insurer then the insure will invalidate the insurance in that particular instance, so it is really important to be completely accurate - at the end of the day you are buying insurance to be covered, so why lie and not be covered?
Q7: Because other things that people might be tempted to do that you hear about is insuring it at a different address, perhaps that of your parents or something because it's a lower risk postcode - or saying its parked in a garage when its parked on the road, things like that, and its just really important not too because it could prove to be a complete false economy couldn't it?
SS: Yes, its completely false, because you only realise you need insurance when something goes wrong and if your car is lost/stolen/damaged for whatever reason you want to know that car is insured and if you've inaccurately responded to a question whether it be on our site or an insurers site or over the telephone, at the end of the day the insurers could invalidate that particular policy, which leaves you without a car.
Q8: The other thing once you have got all your quotes is to check the levels of cover because again that can vary and insurers can often use levels of cover as a way to price themselves more competitively i.e. they will strip things out of the cover, so as well as chasing the best price it' also important to ensure that you have got the cover that you need.
SS: Yes, absolutely. I would urge people to look at the results table in detail - don't just look at the top price - but if the top price is for you that's absolutely fine, but also look a little bit further down the list and just see what is included in the policy, it may be that a courtesy car is important to you, it may well be that breakdown cover is important to you and its included in the price.
Some of the policies have these and some don't: the easy way to spot these is we have big green ticks if they are included and big red crosses if they are not included, so it is really easy to see but it's also really important that you benchmark the policies against each other. The cheapest price isn't necessarily the best deal for you, so it's always important to check the features as well.
CF: Thanks you Steve.
SS: Alright, thank you.