WHENEVER SAVERS look up the best-buy tables in personal finance pages, what they are effectively being given is a snapshot of how products and companies compare in any given week.

The trick is to spot which firms' products appear every week. Moneyfacts, the statistical information provider which compiles The Independent's own best-buy chart, has done just that in relation to term assurance premiums.

Term assurance is a bog-standard type of life cover, which is set for a fixed term and for pre-agreed amounts. Competition is keen and it is easy to see just where all competitors stand.

In the six months from January to the end of June this year, MoneyFacts produced 321 tables showing term assurance premiums. It found that every chart in the past six months has included Equitable Life among the most competitive.

Marks & Spencer Financial Services, another player to announce last year that it would be cutting prices heavily, comes second with 299 chart appearances. The third and most common entrants are Eagle Star Direct and Direct Line, with 182 and 171 appearances respectively. Fifth place goes to Scottish Provident, which "charted" 169 times.

The moral is: for value, look to the names that are there most often. The chances are you, too, will be there or thereabouts most of the time.