COMPARISON site Compare the Market has been fined £17.9million for stopping insurers advertising cheaper deals elsewhere.
The competition watchdog found this was likely to have resulted in higher insurance premiums for customers.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said Compare the Market breached its rules for a period of two years.
It found that between December 2015 and December 2017, the comparison site imposed clauses that stopped home insurers from offering lower deals on other websites to protect it from being beaten in price.
The CMA argued that without these clauses, Compare the Market would have had to compete harder to get lower prices from home insurers.
It also meant that competition and deals on other websites were more limited for customers.
How to slash the cost of home insurance
HERE are some tips from the Money Advice Service on how to save costs on your home insurance premiums.
- Increase security: Some companies will only insure you if you have BSI-approved locks on all outside doors and windows. You might also receive a reduction for joining your local Neighbourhood Watch scheme and for installing some security lighting.
- Install alarms: Smoke and burglar alarms are both important. Make sure they’re approved models — a NACOSS alarm (National Approvals Council for Security Systems) could earn a discount on your premiums.
- Take advantage of offers:Some insurers guarantee to beat any quote by up to ten per cent, on a like-for-like basis.
- Pay annually: Monthly premiums can cost more. There’s usually an extra six per cent charge to pay. But some insurers will allow payment by instalments for no extra charge so it’s worth shopping around.
Increase the excess on your policy: Excess is a contribution you pay towards the cost of your claim. If you are happy to cover a bit more yourself, your premiums might be lowered.
- Build your no-claims discount:If you don’t claim for a few years there may be a discount, but not all firms offer this, so check first.
- Buy buildings and contents cover together: You might get a discount if you get both from the same firm. Also, if there’s a fire, or something that affects both the building and your possessions, it’s often simpler to claim.
- Shop around: When you’re looking for the right home insurance deal you have to remember that the level and type of cover is just as important as the price.
You need to compare levels of cover and check the exclusions (things you’re not insured for). This makes sure you get the features you need and you don’t pay more for unnecessary extras.
However, Compare the Market has hit out at the CMA ruling and said it “fundamentally disagrees” with the outcome.
Michael Grenfell, the CMA’s Executive Director for Enforcement, said: “Price comparison websites are excellent for consumers.
"They promote competition between providers, offer choice for customers, and make it easier for consumers to find the best bargains.
“It is therefore unacceptable that ComparetheMarket, which has been the largest price comparison site for home insurance for several years, used clauses in its contracts that restricted home insurers from offering bigger discounts on competing websites – so limiting the bargains potentially available to consumers.”
A Compare the Market spokesperson told The Sun: “Compare the Market is disappointed with the CMA’s decision and does not recognise its analysis of the home insurance market.
“We fundamentally disagree with the conclusions the CMA has drawn and will be carefully examining the detailed rationale behind the decision and considering all of our options.
“In the past year alone, we have helped more than 6 million customers save money.”
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