More than just the Meerkats

While comparison websites are incredibly useful, they can be dull and inspiring, serving up lots of raw information, but little in the way of entertainment. But there’s an exception, www.comparethemarket.com has the adorable Aleksandr, the Meerkat, along with his friends to spice things up. If you surveyed ten people in the street, you can bet that a large proportion would be aware of the innovative campaign.

And so, with familiarity of the brand high, the company has taken a fresh look at its website, which launched yesterday morning. We were asked to take a look and give our honest opinions and first impressions are good. The bright colours, a light reference to the Meerkats, and seven sections – some of which we didn’t realise the site covered. Instantly, we think of the website as something that gives you a comparison against various insurance products, but there’s so much more. Of course there’s the motoring stance that we are interested in, but www.comparethemarket.com also covers home and life insurance, as well as pet and travel insurance too. Finances are covered as well, from mortgages to savings, and to credit cards. They even cover the utilities, like gas, electricity and the best broadband providers.

We took a look at the ease of use of the motor insurance side of things, and were impressed with its easy to understand interface, with all of the questions backed up with an explanation as to why they are asking the question. Very often you fill in endless fields, but aren’t really sure where the information will end up or be used for. By inputting your registration number, as if by magic, the full details of your car spring up, so you don’t have to go through the laborious endless list of menus choosing the make and model and the individual trim level. It also means that mistakes are reduced too, as the information will be taken straight from the DVLA database.

Next up, once the model information has popped up, it gives you an instant valuation of your car – based on their information. In our example, the value was exceptionally low, almost insultingly so, however, there’s the option to increase that amount, based on what you understand it’s worth. Of course there’s no guarantee that they’ll actually pay that much if it got written off.

After that, there’s a series of questions asking you about the kind of use the car will experience – including pictorials – which be handy if English isn’t necessarily the native language or reading isn’t the person’s strong point. It’s all easy, short questions that most people will be able to answer. Personal information is next, revealing all the kind of information that you would expect that an insurance company would want, together with any accident claims or motoring convictions. They ask about your motoring history and health and whether you want any extra drivers on the policy.

The last section is all about what kind of policy you are searching for, and then you input your contact details so you can be alerted when the quotes are ready. If you put in a telephone number, they warn you that the two companies that provide the best quotes may contact you, which is good – at least you know what to expect.

Within a moment or two, a long list of figures will appear, fronted by Aleksandr, the Meerkat. Our quotation for our 45-year old Mr A Elephant who was a Zoologist living in Essex got quoted just £327 on a 2004 diesel MG ZT. By clicking on the quote, you get a full summary of the terms, together with a link to the company’s website to take the policy to the next step. It’s easy to change any of the parameters – including any voluntary excess, and revised quotations take just a moment to arrive.

One of the biggest hassles when trying to arrange car insurance is having to contact each company individually, painstakingly going through the same questions one by one. www.comparethemarket.com/car-insurance/ takes all the pain out of this, as you input it once and have access to almost all insurance companies, with one well-known notable exception. I would urge Diesel Car readers to give it a go next time your insurance is up for renewal. Even users that have basic PC skills will be amazed at the results they get with just a few key strokes.

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