Cheap does not always mean good value
Every few years there is an outcry when a well loved UK brand changes the recipe, or the standard weight, for a chocolate bar. There is usually a PR reason given, but we all know it is done so the manufacturer can make the product more cheaply, charge the same price, and make more money. Sometimes it works a different way, and the price of the product drops, but it is because something has been taken out. So it feels like the product is cheaper, and we are paying less, but we are getting less for our money.
And sometimes a more expensive product is just better. The title of this blog refers to those times when we think we have found a bargain, but the product wears out really quickly and we have to buy it again. Or it doesn’t do what we need it to. It would have been better value to have bought the expensive product that would have lasted far longer, or does what we need it to.
Why does this happen? Because so often we are attracted by the quick win of the lowest price, and that outweighs our concerns for the longer term.
Insurance is complicated, so lowest price can seem attractive
When something is complicated, we are even more likely to concentrate on a headline that is easy to understand. We can all understand the lowest price. That is what has happened in insurance, where price comparison websites have encouraged customers to look only at the lowest price, and other parts of the products have been pushed into the background. So for insurers trying to sell products through price comparison websites the aim has become to make them as cheap as possible, and sometimes that has meant reducing what is included in the product. And maybe, because motor insurance is compulsory, some people have started to think that all the insurance products are the same.
Good value insurance policies still exist
So it is easy to find similar insurance policies from the same insurer for different prices, one policy on a price comparison website and another policy on the insurer’s own website. But usually the policies are only similar, not the same. What is covered may be different in important ways, and possibly there may be differences in the way that claims are handled. The policy with the higher price may be much better value for the customer.
How can we see the bigger picture?
Customers need to remember what they are paying for when they buy an insurance policy. Many do already. What is covered? What is excluded? How good is the customer service if they need to make changes to the policy, or if they need to make a claim?
Help is out there to compare how different insurers treat their customers – we can see comments and ratings on social media, and there are websites like FairerFinance.com that score insurers on how they treat their customers.
It is much more difficult to work out what the differences are between similar policies from the same insurer sold through different websites. What is good value and what is just paying more for something we could get for less money elsewhere? Many of us don’t have time to read lots of lengthy documents on similar policies, and when we do the details are often difficult to compare, even in the summary Key Facts sheets.
PolicyCastle is different
At PolicyCastle we know that our members understand the difference between low prices and good value. So the cheapest price isn’t always the best product for our members. But we also know that our members want to have the choice. We do show the cheapest policies we can provide for our members, but we also show what our members think are the best value policies, and make as clear as we can in our Key Facts sheets the detail of what is, and isn’t, covered.
We ask our members to rate the policies they have researched through PolicyCastle and the insurers that provide them so members can use the ratings to inform their choices, and insurers can see the feedback. We want to rebuild trust between insurers and our members, for everyone’s benefit.