If you’ve ever tried to compare health insurance or hotels to find the best deal, you will have likely encountered a commercial comparison site.
While these services can be a useful tool, it’s important to make sure you know how these sites work before relying on a comparison to choose a service provider.
Consumer Protection has received a higher number of enquiries and complaints about comparison sites in the past 12 months, mostly to do with COVID-19 related travel cancellations and people wanting refunds instead of vouchers or credits.
Private health insurance is another area people might use comparison sites for, however a recent investigation found they do not compare all the options and may not send users to the cheapest providers. The investigation also revealed that of the 37 health funds available, one of the major comparison sites only analysed 11 funds, while another site only looked at eight.
That’s why it’s important to check a range of comparison sites against each other – this will help you to be sure the information is reliable and up-to-date. Also explore the cost of booking or buying through the supplier directly.
Think about more than just price and filter results so they’re listed in order of what you need, such as certain coverage on a health insurance policy.
Look to see (including in the fine print) whether a commercial relationship is disclosed, which could mean the website receives financial inducements from listed businesses in return for recommending them. In addition, check whether the website is owned by the same business that owns the products being compared.
Calculate the total cost – a headline price may be click bait and when you get to the payment stage of the transaction it could be more than you thought because of additional fees and charges not disclosed in the promoted dollar amount.
Consider government site options, such as www.privatehealth.gov.au which contains updated information about what is covered by each policy and its prices.