Most product comparison websites providing life insurance product information receive commissions that are little different from the commissions paid to financial advisers, yet they do not offer anything like the same level of service, according to new research.
Rice Warner’s latest Life Insurance Aggregator Review says comparison sites focus on price with less emphasis on product features.
“The inadequate link between price and product features is likely to result in consumers overlooking what is being offered for the price they pay,” the review says.
“Without comparing the product features, which can be difficult and time consuming, consumers may rely on product names and prices to differentiate products.”
Product comparison sites provide an alternative channel for life companies to market their products. They are commonly used by consumers as a platform to understand what products are available and how much they charge.
Rice Warner says a few comparison sites operate on a preferred partner arrangement, meaning that they only display the quotes of other insurance products in situations where products from their partners are not available.
Rice Warner found significant variations in the quality of tools available to help consumers calculate their insurance needs. The variations were due to the level of consideration given to factors such as salary, immediate cash outgoings, debts, future living expenses, pre-existing insurance cover and financial asset offsets.
No comparison site provides information about life insurance provided through superannuation funds, which is the most common type of life cover.
“We would expect comparison sites to offer a level of service that more closely matches that provided by financial advisers,” Rice Warner says.
“Consumers tend to need most assistance at the claim stage. However, no information is given by comparison sites on how consumers will be helped if they need to lodge claims. This is a clear disadvantage, compared with using a financial adviser.”
Rice Warner also found that premium quotes for lump sum products were readily comparable, while comparisons for income protection were “more problematic” because not all comparison sites allow consistent scenarios to be displayed.