A review of Travel Insurance Price Comparison websites

For residents of the UK (resident of US/Canada | resident elsewhere)


Date of review:2nd & 3 July 2012



Review Summary


1. Despite drawbacks, comparison sites can save the typical holiday maker time and money. The sites that came top in the review were:

  • MoneySupermarket.Com; and
  • USwitch.Com (or CompareTheMarket, GoCompare, TescoCompare and Confused) which give the same results because they partner with SAME COMPANY to provide their travel insurance quotation. Of these USwitch & Confused had the best user ratings.

Use USwitch or Confused if you are searching for an annual multi-trip, or "backpacker" policy that insures you for areas outside Europe; or if you are looking for cruise cover. MoneySupermarket displays quotes from the most insurers.

2. Whether buying direct or via a comparison site, you should always read the policy document (don't rely on the summary). Ensure it provides the cover to meet your needs.

3. All sites allowed you to specify a winter sports option, but none had options for other "higher risk" activities and sports (see below).

4. Some sites allow you to specify cruise cover, on others you will have to click to individually check the policy details and see if it is covered.

5. Even sites with high satisfaction ratings still had users complaining about spam; make sure you tick/un-tick relevant boxes regarding emails etc.

6. Some companies like directline.com are not listed by comparison sites because they don't pay commission.



Insurance Warning


Always check the policy details carefully to ensure it meets your needs. Cheapest doesn't mean best.

Don't assume a standard policy will cover you for accidents on activities e.g. camel riding. UK Insurers lump activities and sports into various levels of risk, with certain activities usually covered by the "standard" policy, and others in higher risk categories for which you will have to pay an additional premium. There are similarities in how activities are categorised by insurers; but also differences. For example one may includes cover for "Go Karting" as standard, whereas another might specify it as a higher premium say "Level 2" activity.

Always read the policy document before purchase (intentionally repeated), and if in doubt seek expert advice.

Association of British Insurers: Travel Insurance - what you need to know.



Introduction


Similar insurance policies can vary greatly in price; and no one insurer is cheapest for every type of traveller. Travel insurance comparison sites can help identify the policy that is best value for you.

I looked at holiday insurance on Beatthatquote, Comparethemarket, Confused, GoCompare, Moneysupermarket, Quotezone, Tescocompare.com, and USwitch.

In identifying the pros and cons of the comparison sites I assessed:

  • the number of Insurers compared;
  • whether policy documents can be viewed on the comparison site;
  • ability to specify cover options and search for "non-standard" policies that cover normally excluded activities
  • privacy: i.e. can you get details of quotes without providing personal information?
  • usability; and
  • opinions on the sites posted at Reviewcentre.com and MyWOT.com.

Limitations of Review, and why


Travel insurance reviews: only those licensed by the FSA are legally allowed to provide advice on insurance. The FSA actively monitors this, and takes a broad view of what constitutes advice; so I am unable to comment on the difference between policies. This prevents me from analysing and commenting on the actual results produced by the comparison sites.



The review and its findings:


Issues applicable to more than one comparison site:

1. USwitch, Confused, Comparethemarket, GoCompare and Tescocompare.com all displayed exactly the same results; because they all used the same third party travel insurance price search service. (This is not a criticism, we use third parties on Via.Us.Com; choosing the comparison engine providers that provide our visitors with the best value and choice possible.)

2. All sites except Moneysupermarket redirect you to your chosen insurer's website to complete your purchase.

3. Even those sites with top satisfaction ratings had some users complaining of spam. Ensure you tick/untick all relevant boxes to avoid unwanted emails.

4. All sites except Moneysupermarket require you to enter an email address and name (I used fake ones) before you can display comparison results.

5. All sites except Quotezone allowed you to search for "long stay/backpacker" policies

6. All sites allowed you to specify winter sports cover.

7. None of the sites allowed you to specify other "higher risk" activities. So if you are not a "standard" traveller, the prices displayed may not reflect the premium you have to pay when click through to the insurer and increase your cover to the appropriate activity category. Similarly cruise cover may be included on some policies but not others.


Moneysupermarket.com (joint winner)


Travelchimps rating: 7/10
Claimed number of insurers: 50+
ReviewCentre.Com:
  recommended by: 73.1%; average score: 3.8 / 5
Mywot.com: trust, reliability, and privacy: Good

After a lot of soul searching I've rated it joint first - purely because it provides quotes for more insurers. However, it is not as flexible as the others for multi-trip and backpacker policies; so extra care is needed when viewing results.

The positives:

Claims to search the most insurers (50+).

Options, including minimum amount of cover and maximum excess, are provided for baggage, cancellation, and medical cover. Results clearly display levels of cover and excess for each policy.

Positive or negative?

It is the only site that does not require entry of identifiable personal details to display the quote results. However, if you choose to purchase; you will end up supplying them with more personal information than the other comparison sites. This is because Moneysupermarket does not redirect you to the insurer, but requires you to enter details and purchase on their site.

The negatives:

I was looking for a policy to cover me for visits to all continents. Their annual/multi trip and backpacker quote options only allows you to specify "Worldwide" or "Europe".

I thought "worldwide" meant the whole world; but when I selected Worldwide; most of the quotes listed (including the first 7) were for "Australia and NZ", or "Worldwide excluding USA and Canada").

If I was in a hurry I could have picked insurance that did not cover me for the majority of countries I intended to visit. You have to read down the "zone" column of their results to find policies that cover the region(s) you plan on visiting.

If you decide to buy, you complete your purchase on Moneysupermarket's own site (it states it does not add anything to the price). I prefer to be redirected to the insurer's site to avoid the risk of problems similar to this.


Confused and USwitch.Com (joint winner)


Travelchimps rating: 7/10
Claimed number of insurers: 25+
ReviewCentre.Com:
  recommended by: 95.1% (83.6%); average score: 4.6/5 (4.2/5)
Mywot.com: trust, reliability, and privacy: Excellent (both sites)
* figures in brackets = "uSwitch"

The same price comparison search is used on both these sites; and it is the most flexible and easy to use. Because of this (and because they had significantly better user ratings than the other websites using this search engine); these two sites are ranked first choice.

The positives:

The comparison engine is the only one to allow you to specify cruise cover as a requirement (but not on backpacker policies). Note: I haven't tested this.

Unlike other search engines you can also filter to only display policies that include cover for airline insolvency.

You can filter results for amount of baggage, cancellation, medical cover. Results clearly display levels of cover and excess for each policy.

The negatives:

Although readable, the policy documents display in a fixed size box, it would have be more user friendly if you could enlarge the viewing box.


Comparethemarket, Gocompare, Tescocompare


Travelchimps rating: 6.5/10
Claimed number of insurers: 25+
ReviewCentre.Com:
  recommended by: 10.7%; 60%; 17%; average score: 1.3/5; 3.2/5; 0.8/5
Mywot.com: trust, reliability, and privacy: Good; Excellent; Good

These sites all use the same third party travel insurance service as Confused and UsSwitch, so the same pros and cons apply. However, user ratings for these 3 Websites were significantly lower (these ratings may have nothing to do with holiday insurance, but could be the result of, say spam, or a users experience with whatever service they used on the site).


Quotezone.co.uk


Travelchimps rating: 6/10
Claimed number of insurers: 30+
ReviewCentre.Com:
  recommended by: 93%; average score: 4.6/5
Mywot.com: trust, reliability, and privacy: Very Poor*
  *based on a small number of user ratings

Its service is also used to provide insurance comparison on other sites.

Quotezone provides quotes for single trip and multi-trip ("annual") holiday policies but not long stay (backpacker).

It does allow you to specify that baggage and cancellation cover are required; but you cannot specify minimum amounts. Excess is not changeable or displayed.

Policy details cannot be viewed from the list of quotes; so you wont know if a policy completely meets your needs until you click through and view the policy documents on the insurer's site.

You HAVE to provide email, name, AND postcode; before you can view quotes.

I was pleased to see the search Form had a prominent notice that "Insurers may not provide insurance if you are travelling to a country where the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have advised against travel."; and provided a link to FCO.


Beatthatquote.com


Travelchimps rating: 5/10
Claimed number of insurers: 21+
ReviewCentre.Com:
  recommended by: 50%; average score: *3.3/5
Mywot.com: trust, reliability, and privacy: Unsatisfactory
*based on only 4 user ratings

Beatthatquote is owned by Google; and claims to provide price comparison services on MSN, Yahoo, Argos, The Daily Mail and the Independent websites (I haven't checked this).

You HAVE to provide email, name, AND phone AND address to view quotes; and on my first test I failed to notice a pre-ticked box consenting to receiving marketing information.

You can specify that baggage, and cancellation cover are required; but you cannot specify a minimum amount. Excess is not changeable or displayed.

Policy details cannot be viewed from the list of quotes; so you wont know if a policy completely meets your needs until you click through and view the policy documents on the insurer's site.



Older travellers, and those with pre-existing conditions:


If you are over 70 or have a medical condition, then holiday insurance will be more expensive and difficult to find.

I used the comparison sites to find quotes (single trip) for someone of 76; and was pleasantly surprised how many were listed. The sites were also able to provide quotes for annual multi-trip policies from a few insurers.

Most of the comparison sites also claim to be able to provide multiple quotes for those with pre-existing medical conditions. However, this area was too complex for me to review.

If you are having difficulty finding insurance: insurers specialising in insurance for older travellers, and those with pre-existing conditions.



Author: Andy W+ last updated: 5 July 2012.