Motoring|

Google moves into car insurance market with comparison site

Part of Google car insurance compaison pageGoogle has launched a new site this week that compares the prices of car insurance. This comes as no surprise, as the search engine giant takes an interest in any and every kind of market. With its car insurance comparison site, the company claims to address several key concerns among consumers – like respecting their privacy and getting quotes for suitable policies.

This follows Google buying BeatThatQuote.com last year for nearly £38 million. Since that time, the company has been working to develop a tool to compare prices, which it says does more than address concerns about consumer privacy, transparency and trust. And although it generates car cover quotes, there’s been an indication that the giant may launch similar services for other products eventually.

There have been problems with price comparison sites in the past. One of these is that the quotes they generate don’t meet the needs of the consumer and make assumptions, leading to invalid claims. Some quotes would require that consumers pay a higher amount of voluntary excess than what they asked for. Consumers have also not been asked up front if they want extras – like access to a courtesy vehicle, personal injury coverage or legal coverage.

Another problem has been prices and policies being different between the comparison sites and the providers’ sites. Some websites don’t allow the consumer to choose not to receiving marketing material while the quote is being generated. And some lead consumers to think they cover the entire market, but instead they only get quotes from less than one-third of insurers.

These are specific things that Google is trying to address while developing the new price comparison tool. First of all, it compares the policies and prices from over 120 insurers, and there are plans for this number to increase in the near future. It also makes clear that it doesn’t cover the entire market. Second of all, instead of assuming things about the consumer, the tool requires that the motorist actively select options that relate to their vehicle, policy requirements and personal details. This is to ensure the quotes aren’t only based on the least expensive and are relevant so consumers can make valid claims.

On top of this, the car insurance comparison tool asks the driver to choose if they prefer to pay their policy’s bill by the month or the year, and the results show both so they can be compared as well. The summary page allows them to compare as many as four different policies and see which ones provide their requested cover and which ones don’t include extras – like breakdown cover. To make the process even better, consumers are automatically opted out of getting marketing altogether. Google won’t contact the consumer if they haven’t agreed to it, nor will they pass their information onto another party. The company is also ensuring the prices on its comparison site are exactly the same as those on the insurers’ site – subject to minor rounding.

Consumers can’t search for the tool by name, as it doesn’t have one. It can be easily found by using the Google search engine to find ‘compare car insurance’. Google price comparison product director John Paleomylites says that they want to help people find the best insurance policies in the quickest, most honest way while respecting their privacy. The company also said that they will publish a code of conduct that it expects its panel of providers to meet. Consumers will be encouraged to reveal offenders of the code through a complaints process, and those who persistently breach this will be removed from its comparison tool.

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In the Press
  • The Sunday Post Martin Lewis of moneysavingexpert.com: Early booking using comparison sites including Carrentals.co.uk can slash up to 70%
  • The Daily Mail For the best deals, use price comparison websites such as Carrentals.co.uk.
  • The Daily Telegraph Check out car hire comparison sites such as Carrentals.co.uk to see the prices on offer at dozens of car hire companies.
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