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Car Insurance Comparison Sites: Getting to the Heart of the Beast

Road Kill or RSPCA?

They are everywhere you turn….

There’s no escaping them!

They are certainly more indigenous to the UK than any other country to date and although everywhere are not really understood by humans, some who choose to ignore their presence totally.

They are widely cared for amongst the young and patient and they are a very eclectic bunch of ‘animals’.

You’ve got Tigers, Elephants, Rhinos, Dogs even Froggies and of course Meerkats to name but a few.

Car Insurance Comparison Sites

Yes of course we are talking about Car Insurance Comparison sites!

Car Insurance comparison sites are not a new concept, however the modern beast is a lot different from what was available in the high street thirty years ago.

People have always wanted to compare prices to get the best deal and the British car insurance buying public had and still do have a penchant for a deal and cheaper car insurance.

In those days the only option for the savvy buying car insurance punter was to visit a high street car insurance broker. Car Insurance Brokers in those days would be able to offer you a limited choice of policies depending upon how many agencies they had managed to acquire with underwriting agents or car insurance companies. Quite often the car insurance comparison was done manually by a clerk from a printed book of rates. There more advanced and bigger brokers would have had what were called car insurance rating front ends connected, sometimes, to  EDI systems that passed the business onto the Insurance company. This was the only way you could compare car insurance. The alternative would have been to visit a  tied agent who would only offer you one car insurance policy from the agency he was tied to. Surprisingly though, the agents were quite often cheaper than the crude car insurance comparison systems that existed, and funnily enough this still holds true today to some extent!

The first car insurance comparison websites were British and appeared on the Internet over twelve years ago. They were not the sleek sophisticated processes or services that a few now operate. Nor did they compare much because very few insurance companies or car insurance brokers had the capability to provide rating engines in real time. Consequently the so called aggregators of the time were initially limited in the range and scope of their insurance offerings and the high street broker with many agencies and new PC’s could probably compare more car insurance polices than the new  young comparison offerings of the time.

The actual technology itself behind the car insurance comparison site is basically the same now as it was twelve years ago, however the ubiquitous availability of Broadband and the rise of Generation E, have made the markets and technologies available to the whole UK public, and a worthwhile proposition for just about every investor and insurance company with nous.

One of the many complaints often heard voiced about car insurance comparison sites is the speed or response of the website and the length of the wait before the quotes that have been compared are returned.

This problem is partly as a result of the success of the car insurance comparison websites themselves, and their desire to offer more quotes compared to the the public, but also a result of the underlying technology used by them.

Since their early days large car insurance comparison websites have used what is known as screen scaper technology. This enabled them to collect all your car insurance details in one form on their websites, whilst in the background the server would be form filling the online application forms at the car insurance providing affiliates or underwriting insurance company website.

Before presenting the quotes back to the Internet User to ‘compare’, they have to ‘aggregate’ them into one webpage  – hence the long wait.

Many of the largest companies you see offering price comparisons online still use this method.

A much quicker method for serving up car insurance comparisons opn the Internet is integrate the rates for each policy  into a local database that could actually deliver real time comparisons in an instant.

However the big names still employ screen scraping in a bid to get as many offerings on the site as possible. So many car insurance price comparison websites have foregone speed to deliver volumes of quotes compared.

Not only is this delay frustrating for the user but the majority of quotes returned are outside the ‘buying parameter’ of the potential car insurance client!

Despite all these growing problems car insurance comparison sites are becoming more popular every year and will soon become the de facto method of enquiry about the costs of motor cover even if people still buy from a broker.

Car Insurance Blog sent Dave Healey along to talk to the folks at Car Insurance Comparison one of the UK’s newest and quickest car insurance comparison sites and part of the compare.com group, to find out just what is involved in an online car insurance comparison site and why do people use them?

Spokesperson Lee Andrews explained.

“Car insurance comparison sites team up with a range of different insurers allowing them to provide a large number of quotes, ordered by the lowest first. This allows the consumer to select the cheapest or quote that’s right for them.”

“It’s really easy to use!  Firstly, you will be asked to enter your details into the comparison site being asked various questions such as make, model and value of the car and your history as a driver. All these questions are fed into each insurers quotation engine and a quote is sent back to the comparison site, these are then presented to the user to select from.”

“This is a proven process and is almost guaranteed to save you money if you have never used a car insurance comparison site before and the higher your premium, the more you are likely to save with a car insurance comparison.”

“Most comparison websites will compare anything from 30 to over 100 insurers and chances are the more they compare, the more likely you are of saving money on your renewal price. The list of insurers to each site usually differs between one comparison site to the next so it might be a good idea to try 2 or 3 of the big ones in order to ensure that you are obtaining quotes from most of the market.”

“When selecting a policy, try to bear in mind that price is not everything, take into consideration the amount of excess, and additional cover such as breakdown or legal cover included in the price. Also be sure to check the interest rate if you are paying by instalments – they may have provided the lowest quote but you could end up paying more back after interest has been added.”

“Finally, be sure the company providing your cover is a reputable company, if the lowest quote is from a company you have never heard of, and the next quote in the list is a well known company it might be worth paying a little extra for peace of mind.”

So there you have it from the ‘horses mouth’! Remember to visit a few of the less well known car insurance comparison sites qwhen shopping around for those hidden bargains. There are many specialist car insurance comparison sites these days on the Internet, which allow the customer to compare classic car insurance to comparing quotes on the one hand and specialist kit cars on the othe ‘paw’.

Happy hunting!

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