What do comparison sites offer consumers?
Well for some but not all they have the aim of making it easier to compare what’s available.
Read on to find out more.
As the numbers of Financial Services and Mortgage products (as well as many other types of products) have become more numerous, and complex, over the years, numerous comparison sites have been launched, apparently with the aim of making it easier and faster for consumers to compare what is available and, in theory, make informed purchasing decisions themselves.
For some, probably mainly those with at least some fundamental subject knowledge, it is possible that these online websites do help, although there are certainly arguments against using these, especially within the Financial Services arena, which often involves complexity, potentially big risk, and also expense.
In fact, many would agree that there is no safe alternative to taking independent advice from a registered and regulated adviser or broker, who can look over the wider market and compare things like product features, charges, restrictions, as well such things as service levels and cost.
The human touch.
Someone who can thoroughly understand the nuances of your situation before jumping to any conclusions about potential solutions.
Another factor that is relevant when considering using a comparison site, is objectivity.
Some companies and products shown on the site, rely on payments being made to the site owners, by the product providers.
This puts into doubt the rankings that the site uses.
Might there be a temptation for the sites to point consumers in the direction of products paying higher payments to them?
Might this affect the so-called ‘rankings’?
Financial advisers, on the other hand, trade in a highly regulated and transparent environment, meaning they have to be objective and ensure that any products sold to consumers, genuinely match their requirements regardless of adviser reward – or they wouldn’t be allowed to continue to trade.
So….. while it is certainly true that comparison sites do allow consumers to compare aspects of products on offer, caution is advised are there are potential pitfalls – not least of which is that some highly reputable companies actually refuse to have their product details shown, thus meaning any search is incomplete. The best deals for you may not even be listed!
Anyway…. If you do choose to use them, make sure you watch out for ‘pre-ticked’ boxes. You do not want any incorrect assumptions to be made about your circumstances which may later result in any claim not being paid!
Also, the ‘general’ nature of the questions asked may result in key information not being requested / provided (which again, could result in non-payment of a future claim). Take care to understand what excesses any policy may be subject to.
See whether increasing your excess may reduce the premiums.
Make sure you understand what additional charges are being made if you opt to pay monthly.
Make sure you are not being charged for bits and bobs you don’t even want or need.
Quite a minefield. Caution! And a perfectly good reason to choose independent financial advice.