Google has today launched a new price comparison site for car insurance and claims it has addressed a number of key consumer concerns including getting quotes for suitable policies and respecting peoples’ privacy.
While Google’s tool specifically generates car insurance quotes, there are hints the search engine giant could launch similar services for other products in the future.
Last year Google bought BeatThatQuote.com for almost £38m and since then has been working to develop a price comparison tool that it says goes ‘above and beyond’ addressing concerns surrounding transparency, trust and consumer privacy.
Problems with price comparison sites
In the past Which? has found some problems with price comparison sites. Our concerns include:
- Generating quotes for policies that don’t meet peoples’ needs and make assumptions which can lead to invalid insurance claims
- Not being asked up front if consumers want extras such as legal cover, access to a courtesy car or personal injury cover
- Quotes being generated for policies which require you to pay a higher amount of voluntary excess than what you have asked for
- Policies and prices differing between those on comparison sites and those on the provider’s site
- Some sites not letting you opt out of receiving marketing material during the quote generating process
- Some sites leading consumers to believe they cover the whole of the market when in fact some get quotes from less than a third of providers
Google says it specifically set out to try and address as many of these concerns while developing its new price comparison tool which doesn’t have a name but can be accessed by typing ‘compare car insurance’ into the search engine.
John Paleomylites, Google’s price comparison product director, said: ‘We want to help consumers find the best car insurance in the fastest and most honest way possible while completely respecting their privacy.’
First glance at Google’s car insurance comparison site
Google has more than 120 insurers on its panel with plans to increase that number further in the near future, although it acknowledges it is unlikely to get all Which? Recommended Providers on board.
While it does not cover the whole of the market, Google does make that clear on its site. The company is in talks with insurers which do not appear on price comparison sites about the possibility of listing them in a bid to encourage consumers to shop around.
Rather than making assumptions during the quote-generating process, Google’s price comparison tool requires the consumer to actively select options relating to their vehicle, personal details and policy requirements. That, Google says, should ensure the quotes retrieved are not just based on the cheapest but are for relevant policies that will allow consumers to make a valid claim.
Despite concerns this would result in a longer quote-generating process, when one of our researchers tested it out using a number of different scenarios he found it generally took the same amount of time as it does when using other price comparison sites.
Addressing concerns about price comparison sites
While Google’s tool asks you to select whether you would prefer to pay for your policy monthly or annually, the results show both costs so you can see how the two compare.
On the summary page, consumers can compare up to four different policies and clearly see which provide the cover you have asked for and those that don’t include extras, such as breakdown cover.
Our researcher noted you are automatically opted out of receiving marketing from Google as well as third party partners. However, you will open yourself up to receiving such material should you want insurers to call you with potentially cheaper quotes.
Google has produced its own code of conduct, though, which asks insurance providers to:
- Not make contact with you if you have not agreed to it
- Not pass on your information to any other party
- Ensure the price shown on the provider’s site is exactly the same as the price shown on Google’s, subject to minor rounding.
If they fail to adhere to that code, consumers can lodge a complaint with Google by clicking on a prominent link on the tool’s homepage.