Do comparison sites really give consumers the best deal?
Ben Thomas,
Customer Experience Manager
Health Insurance Expert, who’d sign up for that job title? Ben Thomas did in 2008 and hasn’t looked back.

Companies like iSelect and Compare The Market’s advertising can sound like they’re saving the day for the average consumer. But is this the truth?

 

With so many Australians relying on comparison services these days, CHOICE has put them under the microscope. The results may surprise you.

It’s hard to ignore their advertising. Brands like iSelect and Compare The Market completely dominate our TV screens and seem to come up with flashy new campaigns every few months.

However, many Australians are wondering how these companies make money and whether or not consumers are always genuinely getting the best deal.

Leading consumer advocacy group CHOICE has conducted its own research in this area and discovered some interesting facts about online comparison services.

Who gets the best deal: the consumer or the insurer?

Firstly, most people want to know, “which sites give me the best deal? Are the results just influenced by whichever insurer pays the largest commission?” In this area, CHOICE found that:

“With no evidence to show otherwise, the possibility remains that online results could be biased to the policy provider that pays the comparison site the most money, instead of the policy that’s best for the user.”

If you begin comparing health insurance policies on one of these sites, keep in mind the way in which results are presented to you. It’s possible that identical searches on two different comparison sites could yield very different recommendations.

Do commissions paid to comparison sites impact the premiums you pay?

Companies like iSelect and Compare The Market’s advertising can seem pretty slick and sound like they’re saving the day for the average consumer. But they receive commissions, sometimes as much as 40% of your premium over the first 12 months, so it’s natural to ask if this is increasing private health insurance costs for Australians.

“Commissions paid to comparators are funded from the insurers’ advertising budgets, so some insurers argue that to afford these commissions or compete with the marketing budgets of the comparison sites, they need to increase their own marketing budgets and hence the premium you pay.”

With so much attention on the annual price rises in premiums, it’s good to understand why this is happening and the role comparison sites play in these hikes. We’ve outlined what some of the big insurers claim when it comes to their profits and how you can outsmart the health insurance price rise.

How about over the phone advice – is that unbiased?

It’s possible you’ve left your details on one of these comparison services before and received a call back. Generally, phone consultants have a very good knowledge of individual products and can help you compare them in a few minutes.

CHOICE found that although phone consultants don’t know what commissions different insurers have paid, there’s still a grey area:

“Phone consultants are, however, incentivised by performance – the higher the total premiums sold, the more they get paid. So if you’re on the phone to a call centre, and you’re tossing up between a $500 policy and a $700 policy, bear in mind the phone consultant gets a higher bonus if you go with the $700 policy.”

So what does all of this mean for consumers?

Combine all of these findings and it begins to tell a very different story than what the big comparison sites claim in their advertising.

But here’s a pretty powerful fact that thousands of Australian’s are discovering and is winning back people’s faith in comparison services: Members Own Health Funds is a relatively new comparison service, which operates the only exclusive not-for-profit health insurance comparison service in Australia.

Members Own has over 15 health funds available, so you can feel confident that we’ll find the best possible value for you. Being a Not-for-Profit company, Members Own is only focused on customers best interests and creating the best possible experience.

Check out what people have had to say about our service. It tells the Members Own story better than we ever could. Singles, couples and families are all taken care of.

But more importantly, you need to know that Members Own beats the competition on the only 3 things that matter.  Better coverage, more benefits and happier customers.  It’s a fact, check out these industry stats.

If you’re looking for health insurance for the first time or making the switch because enough’s enough. Members Own is the best place to get great Value from a health insurer with Values.  You can use our clever online comparison service to do most of the work for you.

Or you can also call us on 1300 34 34 36, and we’ll help you find the best health cover for your current lifestyle.