Insurance is important and can protect you and your loved ones, now and in the future. With so many types of insurance and providers, it can be hard to narrow down your options.

Comparison sites are one option you can use to help. Using these along with your own research can help make sure you get the right product for your needs, at the right price.

In this lesson, we’ll guide you through the steps you can expect when comparing insurance. We’ll show you how to use the tools and prepare you with things to be aware of.


  • Learn how to compare products
  • Be able to prepare everything you need
  • Know the role comparison sites can have in your search
  • Know how to list what you need and use this to narrow down your options

Read time:

11 mins

Chapter 1

Shopping for insurance

Read time:

4 mins

What you need to know

What is insurance?

There are many types of insurance, from home to car, from pet to life. The role of insurance is to protect you, your money and your loved ones.

It works by creating an agreement with a provider. This agreement means you pay a fee, either monthly or annually. In return, if you were to experience loss, damage or ill health to the insured person, animal or thing, then the provider will compensate you.

Take an example, you pay £10 a month for pet insurance, your pet then has an accident and breaks their leg. In the UK, it costs an average of £809.94 to repair this. Rather than you cover the cost, your insurance will pay.


Types of insurance

  • If you own your own home, you can insure it. Like all insurance, there are different levels of cover. Depending on what you buy, this will cover the cost of damages to your home. You don’t need this if you rent, as the owner will pay for this.

  • Whether you own your home or not, it’s good to protect the things in it.

    From expensive items like TVs and laptops to everyday items like clothes. That way, if you lose an item or even if a flood or fire damaged all of your items, you can afford to replace them.

    Some cover will also protect you away from home for an added cost. This means if you lose your phone or bike, for example, while on the move, your item is covered. 

  • You’ll be able to insure most personal vehicles. This means if you’re in an accident, whether your fault or not, you’ll be able to get help with the cost of repair. Equally if your car breaks down.

    The cost of this differs depending on the experience of the driver, the number of drivers and any history of accidents.

  • This type of product can vary in terms of what it covers you for. The common thread though is that this will protect you in some way when your source of income changes. Perhaps you’re unwell or you’ve had an accident. It can sometimes be that you have lost your job.

    This can help you and anyone who depends on your income were it to stop. Meaning you don’t miss payments on things like rent or your mortgage. It can help make sure that you don’t get into debt.

  • This type of insurance protects your loved ones if/when you die. Making sure they’re still able to cover the costs in their life, especially through the grieving period is extremely important.

  • Like life insurance, but it covers you if you’re ill or sometimes injured. It will depend on the cover you take out. If your illness or injury is covered then you’ll receive an agreed payment amount. This can be used to cover your life costs like rent or mortgage. You could cover your monthly bills or even adapt your home to help you with your illness/injury.

  • This keeps you and your possessions safe while away from home. Again, like all insurance you can pay more to cover more. Most cover will protect you if you get unwell, you have to cancel your plans and sometimes for things like lost luggage.

  • Health insurance is slightly different, but worth covering. Instead of NHS care, you pay a monthly fee in return for care from private healthcare professionals. This can mean quicker access to care than you might receive publicly. Note that not everything is covered, like pre-existing conditions. You may also need to add your own money to what is covered by insurance, as it might not pay for all aspects of treatment. Always check the details.

  • Much like your own health, it’s important to protect the health of your furry loved ones. This helps to soften the impact on you financially when experiencing costly or unexpected vet bills. Again there’s lots of differences from cover to cover. Think about what you need and check you’re covered.

Always check the details

You’ll have seen through all these types of insurance that they can vary. Always check the details of what the product covers. Some will allow you to pay more to cover more. You need to think whether this added cost is worth it for you. We’ll look at this more through the rest of the lesson.

Chapter 2

Prepare to compare

Read time:

1 min

What you’ll need

Before you select and buy any type of insurance, you must decide what it is you need.

Insurance is protection. If you don’t protect yourself enough, you can leave you and your loved ones more open to risk. Equally, it costs to protect, so buying too much protection can cost you more than you need to pay.

Think of it like selecting a safe. If you’re only putting in a few items that aren’t that valuable or sentimental, then you might buy a cheap one. Where something is valuable, then you’d look at the materials of the safe, the locking system and other details. You’ll make sure the level of protection reflects the value of what’s inside.

So this is what you need to do when you compare insurance products. The details of the products and protection will vary depending on type. So, do your research on each type to make sure you get the right cover.


A few examples of the difference

  • With pets, think if you want to be covered for each new condition once or if you want lifetime cover that resets every year
  • With contents, you need to estimate the value to replace your possessions
  • With travel, you need to think whether you want cover for a single trip or multiple trips in a year


Write down which insurance types you need to protect you and your loved ones this year. For each, think what kind of protection would you want in place? Not all the things you would like may be possible. Having these in mind as you search mean you can begin to narrow down your options.

Chapter 3

Using comparison sites

Read time:

4 mins

Can comparison sites help you?

Simple answer – yes. Comparison sites can be a helpful place to start your search. They allow you to capture your needs and they match those needs to many potential products from many potential providers. This means you can compare lots of options all in one place.


Three things to be aware of:

  1. Not all insurance types are available on comparison sites
  2. Exceptions will mean you’ll need specialist insurance that won’t be available to compare – for example, pre-existing health conditions
  3. Not all providers put their products onto comparison sites.


What this means is that comparison sites are just one part of your insurance search. Plus they won’t be right for everyone and every kind of product. It’s worth using a search engine of your choice to do your own research and having a look at providers websites too.


I want to use a comparison site – how do I get started

So, you’ve decided you want to use this tool? Let’s get you started.


If you already have existing cover:

  • Speak to your current provider – find out what their best price is to renew your cover
  • Prepare your list of needs – Use your current cover details as a starting point


If you don’t have existing cover:

  • Write you list of needs – Think about level of cover and specifics of what you might want to cover
  • What might make your policy different? – Do you want any extra protections, do you want to pay annually?


Select a comparison site

It’s now time to select a site. This is also a very personal choice. Do your research and make sure the site fits your needs and is well trusted. You can often check this using online reviews.

Some well-known providers include


Once you have selected:

  1. Go to their website
  2. Navigate to the type of insurance you want to compare
  3. Fill in the details they ask for
  4. Continue until they offer you a list of quotes
  5. Compare these quotes against your list of needs


As you start looking through, check all of your needs have been met. You should at least have your essential needs, maybe even some nice to haves. Compare the price of the cover and make sure it’s not out of your range.

Once you have your top quote, you can navigate to the website of the provider. Here you’ll usually be asked to fill in a few more details before you can make your purchase.

If you have existing cover

Do contact your existing provider before you make a new purchase. Sometimes, if you find a quote that’s better, they’ll offer you a match for the price or try to beat it. This saves you switching. Some won’t be able to offer you the same price, in which case you can go ahead with your comparison site choice.

Be aware, when you compare:

  • Expect to give details – This helps to make sure they give you the right level of protection
  • Give honest answers – Your insurance may be invalid if you don’t
  • Not sure how much cover you need? – Most comparison sites have free tools to help you work this out
  • Most insurance policies will have an excess – The amount you have to pay in the event of a claim. This is a mandatory excess, decided by the insurer. Plus, sometimes you can add an extra voluntary excess
  • Increasing the voluntary excess may bring down your premium – But if you make a claim, you must pay the whole excess. So think about how much you could afford
  • Along with the premium, think about the total excess and level of cover – To make sure you’re comparing like for like
  • Look at the extra cover options – Such as accidental damage cover, taking personal belongings away from the home etc
  • Make sure you’re not ‘under-covered’ – This could impact any how much money you get if you make a claim
  • Your new insurer may ask for information from the old insurer – For example, proof of no claims
  • Check for exclusions or special conditions – Like the types of lock you have on your external doors


Before you buy:

  • Always try to compare like-for-like – One quote may be lower in price, but it might be missing one of your needs
  • Check your details – When the comparison site takes you to a supplier, make sure everything has copied right
  • Read the policy wording carefully – Read the insurance documents and policy booklet, too

Chapter 4

Going direct

Read time:

2 mins

Why go direct?

Comparison sites have a purpose and their benefits, but there are a few reasons why you might want to think about going direct.


Going direct can help:

  • Make sure you see all products each provider has to offer
  • Show you products and providers that aren’t on any comparison sites
  • Remove the need to put your details in twice


You can also do both to compare even more options. Going direct and using comparison sites are both useful tools in searching for products that are right for you. So do think about using a search engine of your choice to look at reviews and compare all your options

Further support

For advice and support on this and other issues, both the Money Helper site and Citizens Advice may be able to help.


Bank of Scotland Academy is committed to providing information in a way that is accessible and useful for our users. This information, however, is not in any way intended to amount to authority or advice on which reliance should be placed. You should seek professional advice as appropriate and required. Any sites, products or services named in this module are just examples of what's available. Bank of Scotland does not endorse the services they provide. The information in this module was last updated on 13th March 2023.