Compare market car insurance

Given the ease with which online commerce and retailing has taken a market foothold and how quickly it has found easy and growing acceptance among consumers, it can become more and more difficult to remember just how bad things used to be, even as recently as a decade or so.

This fact has particular relevance for the insurance industry. Insurance has always been regarded as a sort of ‘distress purchase’ and since car insurance is compulsory by law and therefore not as difficult to market as certain other products, competition had tended to be lax, localised and in certain areas practically none existent.

The main advice to consumers was then, as it is now, to shop around, research and compare market car insurance prices but traditionally ‘shopping around’ meant a couple of telephone calls followed by boredom and eventual surrender to the cheapest quote to be found within the individual’s tolerance level.

Some people didn’t even get that far and traditionally left the business of shopping around to the same broker they had used the previous year, and possibly had used for many years. The whole market was self promoting, stagnant and insurance companies had fairly easy ground on which to compete.

Any way you looked at it, the odds were unfortunately loaded against the consumer.

Computerised online brokers were next; they arrived, claimed to compare market car insurance but were in reality doing exactly what they had been doing before, albeit a little more quickly. Often you still ended up talking on the phone to them as online data input was scrappy and to say the least, unsatisfactory.

Brokers simply pushed and sold the products of their client companies for commission and business continued as usual. No shaking up of the markets, no shocking slumbering companies from time honoured complacency – just nifty-looking websites making wild claims that they were in the business of, or even capable of, comparing the market in car insurance.

The notion sounded good as an advertising lead in, but it rarely lived up to its promise and did little to unshackle the consumer. Why should it? Rapid access by customers to comprehensive information about the markets is hardly in the merchant’s interests after all.

But advances in technology finally broke the mould with the advent of true car insurance premium calculators and modern search engines able to swiftly access data from an infinite number of sources. Now comparing the market in car insurance is a concept that, to borrow a famous retail phrase, does exactly what it says on the tin.

And at first it scared the hell out of the industry. For reasons you can easily imagine, UK insurance companies were reluctant to allow their databases to be searched, reluctant to supply quotes or policy details and most certainly reluctant to offer discounts.

But, true to the dynamics of open competition, there were always those that were not and sheer market demand for transparency and efficiency has driven car insurance comparison ever since.