Price comparison websites have been warned to ensure they were not misleading customers or selling them insurance products on which they would not be able to claim. The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has now written to firms operating the websites highlighting its concerns that customers were not being treated fairly and warning them to ensure they are authorised for the activities they are undertaking.
The regulator is calling on firms to think very carefully about whether they are introducing, arranging or even advising customers on buying insurance and other products - and whether they needed to reflect this change in their permission to operate.
The letter follows a review carried out by the FSA between June and September last year which found some websites could be construed as offering customers advice by flagging up certain products as being 'top rated'. In other cases, it said consumers may think they were being given a quote based on their own individual circumstances – when in reality they were simply being given a generic quote!
The regulator also stressed that firms must take responsibility for checking that consumers were eligible for products and that they had disclosed all relevant information to ensure that future claims were not thrown out. The FSA is also concerned that consumers do not always know who they are dealing with and so did not know whom to complain to if things went wrong.
Some websites have been using price comparison tools which were provided by other companies but this was not always made clear to the consumer. The regulator has now issued new guidance and firms have until 9th August to respond to it. The British Insurance Brokers' Association welcomed the news saying it had in fact first identified problems with the sites during 2008.
This tends to prove then that you are much better off dealing with a professional insurance company where you can speak to a real living person, discuss your needs and listen to their advice. Westhill Insurance Company is one such company offering professional advice and guidance and who will shop around to make sure your budget goes as far as is possible. You cannot beat dealing with a friendly, informed and helpful advisor and so next time you need insurance – whatever the type – give Westhill Insurance Services a call and see for yourself how easy and stress-free insurance really can be!
Contact Westhill Insurance Services, today.