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Use switching websites with caution, urges local businessman

The head of Earby-based West Craven Insurance Services is advising consumers to think carefully about using so-called switching websites this month.

Ian Clarkson points out that January is typically a time when consumers look to get better deals on things like credit cards, utilities and insurance following the expensive Christmas period. Consequently, we are bombarded with advertising urging us to sign up for better deals – especially in the run up to those supersized January credit card bills!

Mr. Clarkson said: “This is the time of year when we’re most likely to want to save money and cut our outgoings, so it’s no surprise that people go to switching or price comparison websites, as they seem convenient and often offer what appear to be cheap deals. But the cheapest deal isn’t always the best deal – the best deal comes in at a good price, but ensures that you get the most comprehensive cover!

“We’ve spoken to many customers who have got what looks like a great price for car insurance, but when you look behind the headline price of the policy and the voluntary excess, there are frequently additional costs – such as a compulsory excess, which can significantly increase your costs,” added Mr. Clarkson.

“Also deals on price comparison sites manipulate prices down by not including many of the extras that most of us would think of as necessities, such as replacement vehicles, legal expenses and even windscreen cover in some cases.

“We’re finding that many people are coming back to brokers such as ourselves, because they get the benefits of a relationship and that means there is some accountability when things go wrong and you have an expert to guide you through what can sometimes be a bit of a maze.

“This is especially true of people trying to source home insurance at the moment because of the extreme weather conditions. Some insurance companies simply won’t deal with people living in areas designated to be at risk from flooding. That applies to many people in our area, but a solution can be found by speaking to a local broker who knows your area.”

Mr. Clarkson isn’t totally averse to price comparison sites, but thinks people need to be aware of their limitations: “I think they’re a useful place for people to start doing research into prices – and I’m all for people being more financially aware. With the cost of living having increased significantly in recent years and especially at this time of year, I’d urge people to shop around, but also to look at your outgoings – there are always savings to be made. “


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