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If you're in the market for travel insurance, you may be wondering if it's better to buy a policy direct from an insurance provider or from a comparison site. There's no one best answer, because it depends on your individual situation—there are differences in the holiday cover you get from comparison sites and insurers directly, and what is best for one person may not be best for the next person.
We'll give you a high level overview of some differences to keep in mind when deciding which is right for you. Our research comes from data analysis of sample quotes for a 35-year-old individual traveller and cover limit information from plans offered by Admiral, CoverForYou, Coverwise, Insure & Go, Sainsbury's Bank, Travelinsurance.co.uk, Virgin Money and Zurich—who all sell travel cover directly and through a comparison site.
Advantage of Comparison Site Travel Insurance: Lower Prices
One of the biggest and most obvious advantages to buying holiday cover via travel insurance comparison is that you're more likely to get access to plans with lower price points. The average price of travel cover from a comparison site can be 40 to 50% lower than plans bought direct from an insurer.
However, companies are able to offer lower prices on comparison sites because these policies typically have lower coverage limits or fewer features.
Another advantage to using a comparison site, besides often finding the cheapest of an insurer's plans there, is that you can view quotes for dozens of policies in one place, without needing to visit individual insurer's websites. This can potentially save you hours of work. As many people buy travel insurance just before they travel when they're short on time, comparison sites are at a distinct advantage here. (FYI the best time to buy travel insurance immediately after you've booked a trip, so that you can be protected by the trip cancellation features.)
Advantage of Buying Direct: Higher Cover Limits and Lower Excess
While travel cover bought direct from an insurance provider tends to cost more on average, these plans tend to offer higher levels of cover. This may not as relevant when it comes to Emergency Medical cover (e.g., realistically, it won't matter if your travel insurance offers £12.5 million or £15 million of Emergency Medical), but for more commonly-claimed categories such as Cancellation and Baggage, the extra £400 of Baggage and £1,200 of Cancellation may make a difference to you. For example.
In fact, a travel insurance provider often reserves the most premium plans (that is, those with the most cover) for sale direct on their website—oftentimes these top-tier plans are not available from a comparison site at all. So if you're after high coverage limits and the best features you might be better off buying direct.
Another advantage to direct plans can be a lower excess, which means you need to pay less in the event of a claim. Our analysis showed that the average standard excess on policies bought direct is around £60 lower than comparison site policies.
Everybody has different priorities when it comes to holiday insurance. When deciding whether to buy holiday cover through a comparison site or direct it may help you to first decide whether price (i.e., premium) or coverage limits and features are a bigger priority for you. Additionally, while Winter Sports and Cruise are often options from a comparison site, some other extra add-ons may not be available unless you buy direct (e.g., golf).
If your holiday costs less than £3k to £5k per person, you're likely to find sufficient cover from a comparison site. Those taking more luxury holidays costing £7.5k or more per person may not get ample cover from a comparison site and may instead need to source travel insurance from an insurance provider directly.
For more in-depth information on the price, cover and excess differences between travel insurance bought direct and travel insurance bought from a comparison site, please see our article, Buying Travel Insurance from a Comparison Site vs. Direct: What's the Differences?