Consumer group Which? found that customers face paying inflated prices due to discrepancies in comparison sites’ online forms.
Which? analysed four of the largest insurance comparison sites and found that their online forms could inflate customer’s home insurance premiums, putting them at risk of paying up to £414.
The consumer group looked at forms on Compare the Market, Confused.com, GoCompare and MoneySuperMarket, and identified that customers face inflated prices due to the websites not asking the same questions as insurance providers.
Customers are asked up to 121 questions on average, according to Which?.
While the questions should extract enough information to generate an accurate quote, where detail is missing insurers often then rely on assumptions and generalisations which could lead to higher costs.
Discrepancies between sites
When cross-referencing the questions on the four sites, Which? identified discrepancies in 30 areas - the biggest of which was related to flooding.
The research found that MoneySuperMarket and Go Compare only asked customers whether their home has ever been flooded - but not when it happened. In this case, insurers interpreted this to mean it occurred within the past five to 10 years.
This pushed the premium of one of the quotes from £290.77 to £704.42, inflating the price by as much as £413.65.
Similar questions, which don’t specify important detail, around bankruptcy and no-claims records also pushed up the prices of quotes.
As charging customers too much, Which? also found that in some cases customers were being charged too little, putting them at risk of being left under-insured or with an invalid policy.
Questions related to customer’s whereabouts on weekends, trees near their home and voluntary excess all contributed to lowering the price of a quote - reducing it by £98 in one case.
Advice for customers
To avoid being landed with inflated prices, Which? advises customers to still use comparison sites for a quote, but to then double check the amount and information provided directly with the insurer.
Using more than one comparison site is also advisable, as this will allow you to spot any major differences in price.
In response to the study, GoCompare said: “We work very closely with our 70-plus home insurance partners to make sure we are asking our customers for the details needed to provide accurate quotes that meet customer’s needs.
“We continuously and proactively review and revise our services to reflect the needs of both our customers and our partners, and we will investigate the anomalies Which? has raised in detail to identify and correct any issues.”
Confused.com added: “We work closely with insurers to make sure our quote process is built to meet their requirements and provides accurate information based on their preferences. We then work together to proactively review this on a regular basis to make sure it is accurate and up to date.
“However, insurers can often update their process outside of this review, in which case we will make any changes required on a case-by-case basis.”