Insurance Online: Speed's at a premium if you want to buy insurance on the Internet

Finding exactly what you want online is still slow going but within five years most of us will be purchasing policies that way at better rates - and with the advantage of immediate cover.

Insurance on the Internet? Whatever next. For most folk on the Clapham omnibus the Net is still a bit of an effort, and most general insurance online services can provide only quotations to potential customers. Companies which allow you to buy your car insurance online are rare. But the pace at which e-commerce and the Internet are growing means we will all be buying a lot of our insurance on the Net in five years.

More companies are building websites and linking with Internet brokers. There are 60 general insurance companies (motor, buildings, contents and travel) selling on the Web, and a third will give a quotation online. The most developed market is motor, with 50 firms selling and more than 100 insurance brokers, and the total is rising fast (use the search engine find.co.uk).

Collecting a handful of quotes from different web sites is slow work, and you can have problems with the system refusing to let you go beyond a certain point when filling in questions. That means resorting to the phone. Even when you've gathered some quotes, you may not have hit upon a particularly competitive bunch. One shortcut is to consult online brokers such as 1st Quote (www. 1stquote.co.uk, tel 0181 598 8080), and Screentrade. A customer using Screentrade's website will type in his or her details, and immediately it will give several competitive quotations. You can buy the policy online, or phone Screentrade direct and agree over the phone.

Screentrade has a pool of only 16 motor insurance companies, which doesn't seem very much, but they have big names there (see table) and probably represent about 80 per cent of the market.

The company says it has selected the important companies with good quotes. You do have to remember that Screentrade, along with other screen brokers, has special relationships with certain companies. You can always spotcheck and find prices from one or two other "quote-only" companies to see how they compare.

The first insurance company to offer "quote and buy" on line was Eagle Star two years ago. It is proud of its product, declaring it to be "easy to use and comprehensive in that there are no follow-up questions." But it can be seen from the table that it isn't competitive. If you do opt to buy online, you are invited to key in your cheque card number or direct debit when paying.

Directline offers "quote and buy" for motor insurance, but not yet on contents and travel. Admiral offers a 10 per cent discount for motor insurance initiated on the Net. Axa does "quote and buy" travel insurance online and will post proposal details on its web pages for other insurance. Many insurers offer a "ringback" service for clients who fill in the forms online. An advantage is that the client has immediate cover.

Legal & General say its customers, having looked at the quote, are happy to clinch the purchase over the phone. The company has a "phoneback facility". Admiral offers a10 per cent discount on its motor policy and there are a growing number of other worthwhile incentives. You may find a quote from an online broker for a particular company may be more competitive than one from, say, an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) or even direct from the company.

Is it any cheaper to buy online? Time rather than anything else seems to be the greatest saving, though online tends to be a little bit cheaper - up to 5 per cent.

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Sport
The giant banner displayed by Legia Warsaw supporters last night
football Polish side was ejected from Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
news
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Java Developer - 1 year contract

    £350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

    Junior Analyst - Graduate - 6 Month fixed term contract

    £17000 - £20000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

    SAS Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Retail Banking

    £450 - £500 per day: Orgtel: SAS Business Analyst, London, Banking, Credit Ris...

    Project Manager - Pensions

    £32000 - £38000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

    Day In a Page

    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone