Back in 2009, television viewers had no idea their senses were about to be battered by two competing advertising campaigns for car insurance comparison sites. They were repeated so much they became part of our everyday language.

First, we had those meerkats who ran comparethemeerkats.com (not to be confused with comparethemarket.com, of course). And then Gio Compario, the portly opera singer, burst onto our screens with his utterly annoying “Go Compare” signature tune, which drove a ton of traffic to gocompare.com.

Other sites have also gamely entered the marketing fray, some having been around for much longer. Moneysupermarket.com has been around since before the noughties, while the aptly named confused.com, part of the Admiral Group, launched in 2002. Confused is appropriate because the volume of comparison sites seemingly offering the same things left consumers, well, confused.

Which car insurance comparison sites save you the most?

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Perhaps this is the most appropriate question since we all use these sites for one reason: to get the cheapest car insurance we can. It’s a purchasing trigger not lost on the marketers, who are spending millions on persuading us their comparison site is the best.

However, it’s worth noting here that the cheapest is not necessarily the best. Remember that a low car insurance quote might be misleading. Comparison sites might not be so keen to display the higher excess payable on any claim, for example. You might end up having to purchase add-ons you had expected to come as part of the package, like a courtesy car or cover for driving abroad.

That being said, if you look carefully – and you should always shop around with more than one comparison site – you’ll see that whatever offers or discounts they have, they pretty much all add up to a similar figure.

You must understand that all are using the same base quotes from various car insurance companies they’re affiliated with, so different price points must come from costs or cuts made by the price comparison site themselves.

A quick search of Google at the time of writing finds the following:

  • Go Compare offering free £250 in excess cover
  • Money Supermarket quoting: “You could save £270 with us.”
  • Quote Zone: “Save up to £264 today.”
  • Confused says 51% can save up to £276
  • Compare the Market claims 45% of customers save up to £333, which means 55% don’t

And so it goes on.

These so-called offers change regularly, but right now you would have to say if you tried comparethemarket.com you might end up saving £333 if you’re lucky.

Which car insurance comparison site is the quickest?

While speed might be important to your purchasing decision, going for a “fast” car insurance comparison site might not be the most sensible. How so? Well if Site A has 20 insurance companies it works with, it will source quotes from them much faster than Site B which has 100 companies on its books. Site B might, therefore, be slower, but it will be sourcing you the best quote from a wider variety of options.

That being said, all the major comparison sites claim to be fast. When you consider the data they churn through before serving up your quotes, they are indeed impressively quick.

All sites require you to do some leg work first, which is submitting your personal details, your driving history and the car make and model of choice. You must then select the options you need (windscreen replacement, emergency rescue, courtesy car, legal fee protection, excess fees and the like).

Once that’s done, and you click the ‘Find my quotes button’, the figures are served up remarkably quickly by all sites.

What about multi-car insurance on comparison sites?

A relatively new concept to the insurance market is multi-car insurance. If you have more than one vehicle in your household, you can now protect them all under one car insurance policy. As well as saving you a lot of time fiddling around insuring each, it could save you some money, too.

Some of the early adopters in the insurance market included Admiral and Churchill. Both of these regularly turn up on comparison sites, so expect your search to yield results from them.

At gocompare.com, they don’t run comparisons for multi-car insurance, preferring to direct you straight to Admiral instead. For their part, Admiral claims you can save over £255 by shopping with them. Admiral boasts these multi-car features as standard:

  • Courtesy car
  • Uninsured driver promise
  • New car replacement
  • Named driver no claims bonus
  • Windscreen repair
  • European cover
  • Sat-Nav and personal belongings cover
  • 24-hour emergency hotline
  • Lifetime guarantee on repairs

Which comparison sites have the best Trust Pilot reviews?

While most advice about selecting a comparison website is subjective, the best “independent” recommendation you can receive is from the reviews left by real customers.

Trust Pilot is a recognised leader in customer reviews and will give a reliable indication of which comparison sites find favour with people just like you.

The results are surprising, and a bit of an eye-opener if you run a comparison site using meerkats as your ambassadors. Here are star ratings out of five:

  • Moneymaxim 4.8
  • Money Pug 4.8
  • Quote Zone 4.5
  • Confused 4.4
  • Money SuperMarket 4.4
  • Go Compare 4.1
  • Compare the Market 3
  • Mustard 2.4

Note that Quote Zone has around a third of the number reviews, while Mustard has only 40, so their scores might be a little more erratic.

Of the better-known brands, therefore, confused.com or moneysupermarket.com seem to be the most popular choices.

Should you even bother with a price comparison site?

It’s a fair question. These sites may look like they are providing the best prices, but in fact, they are giving the prices from a selection of individual insurance companies and adding on their own juice. Sure, they get some discount from the insurance companies for promoting them, but the results mean you end up paying pretty much the same as if you’d gone direct.

It’s a puzzle not lost on those insurance companies who refuse to work with the price comparison sites. Perhaps the best-known example of those is Direct Line, which proudly sells its services exclusively and claims to offer better customer service and pricing as a result.

In many cases, they are probably right. However, the best way to find out is by looking for a quote from a few comparison sites and companies like Direct Line, making sure you input similar variables like excess and breakdown cover. Then you’ll know what your best option is.

The top three ways to minimising your car insurance costs

As well as shopping around, which we’ve made clear is the best option, there are other ways you can save on your car insurance costs. Here are three you may not have thought about.

  1. Choose fully comprehensive. This might seem to go against the idea of saving cash. After all, fully comp means the insurer has to cover a lot more. However, there is a method to this particular madness. That’s because many insurers associate lesser cover like Third Party only with higher risk drivers. It means that fully comprehensive might give you a better deal.
  2. Pay upfront. No matter how you end up getting your car insurance, there’s no escaping it will be costly. The temptation is to jump at the company’s offer to spread the load with monthly payments. Be warned! This generous offer will almost certainly come with a hefty interest cost, perhaps as much as 30% over the year. If you can, therefore, take the hit in one go and pay for your year’s cover at once.
  3. Change your car. Okay, so you’ve got your heart set on a three-litre sports coupe. It may look great, go fast and impress friends and neighbours, but your insurance company will hate it. By choosing a more sensible, lower-powered car that’s not associated with speed, you’ll save a significant amount on your car insurance costs.

Other ways to reduce insurance, depending on which company you end up using, include getting a telematics box of tricks in your car that tracks your driving style. If it proves you’re a safe and economic driver, you might save a tidy sum. On a similar theme, taking a Pass Plus driving qualification marks you down as a safer insurance bet. Further ways to save include:

  • Lower your annual mileage
  • Cut extras like breakdown or key cover
  • Increase your voluntary excess
  • Get a dashcam
  • Don’t modify your vehicle
  • Keep it on your drive or in your garage
  • Increase security such as a Thatcham approved alarm
  • Add a named driver

Do your research when comparing car insurance on a comparison sites

While car insurance price comparison sites have played a significant role in helping to drive down insurance costs, you must shop around. That means not only drifting between the major comparison sites, but also checking on insurance companies directly, like Direct Line. LV or Admiral.

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