Shopping for car insurance can be one of life’s more frustrating experiences. For one thing, different car insurance companies often produce hugely different quotes even if the policies you’re comparing are identical.
That means comparison shopping is a crucial part of buying auto insurance; a wise shopper will compare at least four or five different insurance providers to make sure he’s getting a good deal. But going through a list of insurance companies one by one to compare car insurance quotes can take hours and may not get you accurate results. The quotes you receive may not be based on the same coverage levels, making one policy look more or less expensive than it truly is.
That’s where insurance comparison sites can be a huge help in your quest for cheap car insurance. Auto insurance comparison sites let you instantly compare quotes from multiple insurance providers. They provide accurate, personalised rates, discounts, and coverage options all on one site—rather like your favourite travel comparison site that gives you airline ticket or hotel room options all in a single page.
In order to provide an accurate list of options, these comparison sites ask you for basic information such as your postcode, occupation, vehicle make and model, and driving history. Such details allow the site to provide a realistic list of different insurance policies, based on the level of cover and rates.
However, not all sites that claim to provide insurance quotes actually give you real ones.
How Auto Quote Comparison Sites Work
There are two types of insurance comparison websites: quote comparison sites and lead generation sites. Auto quote comparison websites present users with rates based on information submitted during the shopping experience. You can then decide which quote to pursue, and the data you entered is transferred to the agent or company website, greatly shortening the purchasing process. These sites do not sell your information to insurance carriers or agencies.
Unlike true quote comparison sites, lead generation sites simply sell your information to their advertising partners—typically insurance companies. These sites are not built to provide you with personalised quotes and are not much help when trying to compare car insurance rates. Avoid these sites unless you’re eager to receive tons of cold calls and emails from insurance phone banks and desperate agents.
Car Insurance Comparison Sites with Real Quotes
The following comparison websites offer real-time, accurate insurance quotes.
Compare the Market
Compare the Market is a price comparison website that provides quotes for a number of different products and services, including various types of insurance, utilities, bank products and more. It’s one of the oldest price comparison sites in the UK and has been operating since 2006.
Compare the Market supports itself by collecting a fee every time a visitor clicks through to buy one of the products or services featured on the website. The company doesn’t provide recommendations; it simply lists the providers who offer products and services that meet the visitor’s needs. Compare the Market includes a price (from the provider) and a brief description of the product or service.
Once you’ve provided the necessary details, Compare the Market displays a list of providers ranked from cheapest to most expensive. For auto insurance quotes, the site currently draws from a list of 117 car insurance providers.
Compare the Market Claims
On its website, Compare the Market makes the following claims:
- An average of seven minutes to get a quote
- 50 per cent of consumers can save up to £282 on their car insurance premiums
- 25 per cent of consumers can save up to 55 per cent on their car insurance premiums
Compare the Market Quoting Process
Entering my information in the quoting tool took only a few minutes. Compare the Market asked for the usual details, such as vehicle information, driving history, address, and mileage as well as preferred levels of cover. The site then produced 35 available quotes ranging from an annual premium of £1,015.90 to £4,518.17 for comprehensive insurance with voluntary excess of £500.
The quoting tool showed which policies included personal accident cover, courtesy car cover, breakdown cover, and motor legal protection. Clicking the “More Details” button next to each quote provided a breakdown of which types of customised covers the policy included, such as driving abroad and windscreen cover. The details also included a partial list of policy fees.
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GoCompare is another online price comparison tool that generates real-time quotes from multiple insurance providers (as of January 2020, the site draws quotes from over 125 insurers). In addition to several types of insurance, GoCompare provides quotes for bank products, plane tickets, utilities, and more.
Shoppers in special circumstances can look for the particular type of auto insurance that best meets their needs. For example, you can use GoCompare to find quotes for learner driver insurance, classic car insurance, business use insurance, and multi-car insurance. The site also includes a number of guides and tools to help shoppers understand how insurance works and how to reduce auto-related expenses.
On its website, GoCompare makes the following claims:
- More than half of shoppers could save up to £283
- Ranked 4.6 out of 5 on reviews.co.uk
- 92 per cent of reviewers would recommend the site
As of this writing, GoCompare has a special offer of £250 excess cover refunded after your first claim is settled if you purchase insurance through the website.
GoCompare Quoting Process
Filling in the quoting tool’s questions took just a few minutes, and the requested details were typical for a quote comparison site. In order to get the quote, I had to create an account, which included setting a password and entering my mother’s maiden name. GoCompare produced 40 comprehensive cover car insurance quotes, three of which were telematics (aka black box) quotes. Annual premiums ranged from £1,033.84 to £4,444.43. Some of the quotes included ratings from Defaqto and/or customer reviews. Each quote had a “View Details” button that delved into what the policy covered and potential fees.
Confused.com says it is the UK’s first and longest-running insurance comparison website. In addition to getting insurance quotes, shoppers can also compare vehicle financing and utilities, access vehicle buying and selling tools, and check petrol prices. The site partners with 112 car insurance carriers to produce quotes. In addition to car insurance, you can compare quotes for van insurance, motorbike insurance, motor home insurance, and other specialty products.
On its website, Confused.com makes the following claims:
- More than half of shoppers could save up to £285.88
- 95 per cent of its car insurance customers would recommend Confused.com to others
As of this writing, Confused.com gives a free gift worth about £20 to customers buying car or home insurance through the site.
Confused.com Quoting Process
Confused.com’s quoting tool asked for the same details as other quote comparison sites. The site offered me the option to allow the two cheapest car insurance providers to contact me about my quote, an option which I declined. It did not specify whether I would be contacted by Confused.com in the future and did not offer me the chance to opt-out of such contacts. The site required me to create an account, including a password and security question, in order to get my quote.
After completing this process, the quoting tool produced 38 car insurance quotes with annual premiums ranging from £1024 to £4820. Some of the quotes (including the lowest two) sported a yellow banner stating that this was a special price cut for Confused.com customers. The displayed quotes detailed which basic cover types were included in the policy, and clicking the “More Info” button provided a few more details about policy covers. However, there was no information about potential fees. Some quotes included Defaqto ratings for the provider.
CarCompare takes a slightly different approach to auto insurance quote comparison. Instead of getting quotes directly from insurance carriers, the site works with about 20 insurance brokers. CarCompare claims that this approach gives them access to insurance prices that are not normally available online.
CarCompare is one of WeCompare.com’s cluster of price comparison sites. Shoppers can also use VanCompare or BikeCompare to get van insurance quotes or motorcycle insurance quotes, respectively. Other sites in this family offer quotes on different types of insurance, including home insurance, life insurance, and business insurance.
On its website, CarCompare makes the following claims:
- Quotes in as little as three minutes
- Guaranteed low-cost car insurance
CarCompare’s Quoting Process
CarCompare asked the typical questions, but unlike most of its competitors the quoting tool did not allow me to opt out of future communications. The search produced a total of 11 car insurance quotes with annual premiums ranging from £2095.00 to £3810.68. Each quote included only the most basic details about the policy and its covers. In order to get more information, I would be required to call the provider.
Lead Generation Sites
Unlike quote comparison sites, lead generation sites are paid when they send customers’ personal information to external agencies.
These sites often attract your interest with competitive rates, but then transfer you to a different site to continue shopping and complete your transaction, often at a far less attractive rate. This is because lead generation sites are paid to sell your information to an agency, not to present you with the best rates on car insurance.
You can sometimes get auto insurance quotes on lead generation sites, but expect them to be far less reliable than quotes from comparison sites. Using lead generation sites most likely means that you’ll end up wandering from one auto insurance website to another in pursuit of the best rate, which rather defeats the purpose of using a quote-generating site at all.
The easiest way to tell quote comparison sites from lead generation sites is the questions they ask. In order to give you an accurate quote, comparison sites need to collect quite a bit of information, including:
- Your car’s make, model and age or its registration number, which help determine which insurance group it belongs in.
- Your annual mileage.
- How you use the car and where you store it at night.
- Your driving history, including how many years you’ve been between auto insurance claims.
- Whether you are eligible for a no claims bonus, or no claims discount.
- Personal details for yourself and any other named drivers on the policy, including name, age, address, and type of work.
Any site that asks for just one or two details, such as your phone number and postcode, is a lead generation site and is best avoided.
Comparing Car Insurance: FAQ
Is it preferable to use quote comparison sites rather than buying directly from the insurance provider?
The biggest advantage of using a quote comparison site is that you can quickly and easily compare car insurance quotes from a number of different providers. Reaching out to insurance providers one by one to get a collection of quotes will take considerably longer. A good quote comparison site will lay out all the details about each policy so that you can be sure you know what those cheap car insurance quotes include.
Why do I have to provide my address and other personal details?
Insurers use your address, driving history, make and model of vehicle, and many other details to set your insurance premiums. Without this information, quote comparison sites can’t give you an accurate and reliable quote for insurance.
How long does it take to get a quote on a quote comparison site?
It takes less than 10 minutes to fill out the questionnaires on most quote comparison sites. Once you reach the list of policies, you’ll probably need a bit more time to compare the details on the cheaper car insurance quotes so that you can be sure you’re getting a policy that meets your needs. When you choose a policy, you’ll then proceed to the provider’s website in order to purchase it. The entire process typically takes less than an hour.
Conclusion: How to compare car insurance quotes online
Insurance experts suggest that you compare car insurance policies every time your current policy is up for renewal (typically every six months to a year). Before you launch your quote hunt, review your existing policy and see if your needs have changed. For example, you may want to upgrade from third-party to comprehensive car insurance as your income (and net worth) becomes higher.
When you’ve worked out just what coverage you need, an auto insurance comparison site can be helpful in finding the best price for your desired policy. However, you’d be advised to stick to reputable comparison sites that give you real quotes rather than lead generation sites that will throw you on the mercy of cold-calling insurance agents.