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back to article Meerkats face financial regulation

Price comparison sites may be in breach of financial advice regulations when they lead customers to insurance policies, regulator the Financial Services Authority (FSA) has said. Companies must have FSA permission to provide financial advice, but some price comparison website activity could amount to a regulated activity, it has …

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Used to be useful

But now insurance type comparison sites are stuffed with scam prices. There are loads of 'deals' in the lowest prices that you need to call to confirm. When you call they are not available but they can offer you something else. Then you get spammed by all the other companies that you didn't want to use anyway. Even when you tick the 'don't contact me' box.

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Which is why

I put an old YAC number which goes only to voicemail as my contact no.

Surprisignly I never get any emails recordings from it. Shame. Not.

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Vic
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Customer really need to check the small print

I used one of the comparison websites when hunting for professional indemnity insurance.

The "top deal" they came up with was quite a bit cheaper than the others - but when I read the proposal, it specifically excluded working on computer networks.

Given that I'd already told them my profession, I thought it a bit strange to offer me that...

Vic.

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Big Brother

Strong Regulation Wanted

Such sites should be banned unless they are truly independent. For instance...

Confused.com owned by Admiral Insurance.

GoCompare with a £30M loan from esure.

Compare the Market owned by Budget.

Impartial advice? Meh!

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Trollface

Regulator FAIL

"Terms and conditions of insurance policies are often too complicated to expect customers to disclose all the relevant information to the insurer, and to ensure that they have bought an appropriate policy, the regulator warned."

Isn't that an admission that the regulator has failed? Shouldn't they be sorting out the T&Cs that are too complicated?

I also don't understand this:

"unable to claim benefits through a lack of opportunity to disclose all material facts".

Surely, if the insurance company (or their agent) do not allow someone to disclose all material facts, then that is the fault of the insurance company?

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Complicated terms are probably not intrinsically wrong.

AS long as the print is large enough.

However, it might be considered that a contract is too complicated to be a legitimate deal unless it is handled by an expert agent who asks all of the relevant questions. I think that's the point being made: that to be left to get on with that for yourself would count as mis-selling, or something like that. That hand-holding of the customer is indispensable.

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Isn't that the point?

"Advising might include suggesting the purchase of specific contracts of insurance because they meet investors' requirements," the FSA warned.

Er, isn't this the point of these comparison websites ? I give them some details, and they advise me which companies will insure me, and at what price.

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The point is

There is a long history of financial advisers giving people very bad advice in order to enrich themselves by earning commission, and in turn enriching their companies by selling over-priced, under-performing products. In some cases this has had a devastating effect of peoples lives, eg paying a mortgage for 25 years but finding that you don't own the house at the end of it all.

Any such advice needs to be strongly regulated to avoid ordinary people being ripped off by large companies operating sophisticated scams.

By calling themselves "price comparison" sites, implying that they are not offering advice, these sites are avoiding this regulation. The FSA are just saying that some of the services do amount to advice and therefore must be regulated.

And not before time. I've been offered some very unsuitable products, such as a car insurance which bizarrely doesn't cover you for driving to your normal place of work!

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Coat

more and more buerocracy

Surely its up to the Insurance company to reconfirm the deal with the customer once they arrive there from the comparison site?

I think these sites are a great idea . They could be used in so many other markets

"Compare the Party.com" - All political campaining to be done on one webpage per party which is easily comparable . save billions in campain trial taxpayers money / bnriberyu / corruption etc

in fact if I was in charge all advertising would be done that way - then the companys that dont have millions$ for TV ads would get a chance too, and 20% of the population who are in advertising / marketing / PR could do something useful instead :)

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Meerkats = spam

One thing I noticed after I got a quote from er.. a meerkat ... was that I received masses of irrelevant emails from them. Basically they spammed me until I clicked on the "stop sending me crap" link in the mail. Then I started to get mail from other sites to the same address. Stuff meerkats.

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@Meerkats = spam

Couldn't agree more, and not just spam.

After going to "meerkats.com" my phone pretty much started rining none stop for 2 months. "Have you been miss-sold PPI sir?"

Never again.

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just shut them down already.

For our own sanity, please get these places shut down! Their adverts are horrible and a real crime against humanity.

And do people *really* buy things through these sites? I mean sometimes I go on them when my car insurance is due to get a feel for the market and then go check with my chosen shortlist of companies. But I'd never actually buy anything through these sites? Same with advertising, not that I see it any more, but if it says something like "This new car's epic, click here to find out more about this Ferrari" I'd never click the advert, I'd just go to Ferrari myself. People are weird I've decided!

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a good move

I approve of anything that stops that annoying Go Compare bloke appearing on my tellybox every 10 minutes

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appearing on my tellybox

There's button for that.

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Going after the small fish

And letting the real sharks continue rob us blind.

Endowment mortgages

Payment protection insurance

Arbitrary bank charges

Small print designed purely to provide denial of claims

Financial regulation authorities have happily sat back and ignored (and even endorsed) these scams for years. Financial services companies rely on jargon and opaque terms and conditions to hoodwink their victims so they want to see the comparison sites shut down.

"Terms and conditions of insurance policies are often too complicated to expect customers to disclose all the relevant information to the insurer, and to ensure that they have bought an appropriate policy, the regulator warned."

Don't ever make the mistake of thinking that FSA is a consumer protection body - its purpose is to promote confidence in the UK financial services sector and it does this by applying liberal amounts of lipstick.

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@AC 1041

I don't think you can actually buy products from the sites, they just connect you to the chosen insurer.

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