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The tricks they get up to .....

Strange beast are car insurance price comparison websites. Have you ever wondered why it is that every time you type the identical details into their application forms, they always seem to come up with different results? Okay, part of it is because they may all get different rates of commission from the insurance companies, perhaps it is because the companies that own them are often insurance companies themselves (no question of bias there, of course!) And it may be partly because insurers change their offers as often as many of us change our underwear but there is also another subtle factor at work here; research has suggested that many insurers work out just how desperate you are to get cover, and price their offers accordingly!

Have you ever wondered why one of the first questions you are asked is the expiry date of your current insurance policy? A lot of insurance companies will allow you to freeze a price that they have offered you for a maximum of one month, provided that you commit to the policy immediately, because they know that a lot of us start searching well before we need to buy. They also know, in this case, that the likelihood is that you will go elsewhere to another price comparison site later and get quotes from there, too. This is when the cunning car insurance boss will offer you the very best price, knowing that you have plenty of other options in front of you. Contrast that with the day before your insurance falls due; time is tight and you have to make a decision very quickly so the price could rise slightly in the sure and certain knowledge that you have little time left to search around.

Is this a common occurrence, and is there very much money involved? Naturally insurance companies are not telling but there does seem to be a huge coincidence in the fact that so many people find that a quotation 28 days or so before the expiry date of the current policy can be, to quote an often mentioned figure, £30 to £40 lower than one taken at the last minute.

It may well be of course that there are perfectly logical explanations for this and that the conspiracy theory is just a lot of hot air. Sometimes however a healthy dose of cynicism can be very good for your financial health and personally I'll be conducting my next car insurance price comparison a month in advance. Being web wise is just as important as being streetwise these days.

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