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NMa: quality of price comparison sites must be improved

The Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa) finds the quality of most price comparison sites for savings products and travel insurances substandard. ‘Price comparison sites can be extremely useful tools for consumers, but then they had better be complete, accurate, and transparent,’ Henk Don, member of the Board of the NMa, emphasizes. ‘Because if they are not, consumers are still left in the dark, as it would be unclear whether they are truly presented the best option.’ The NMa recommends consumers to consult multiple price comparison sites. In addition, it is advisable to check the website of the prospective provider (of that savings account or travel insurance) whether their information matches the information on the price comparison site.

On at least 6 in 10 price comparison sites, a substantial share of the information regarding savings interest rates or insurance premiums is inaccurate, an NMa scan revealed. In addition, it turns out that 3 in 10 sites for savings products and 3 in 4 sites for travel insurances display too few products. Furthermore, about half of the price comparison sites are not transparent about who their owners are or what their business model is. The NMa believes that it would be best if these price comparison sites improved their businesses by displaying more products, by checking whether the information they present is accurate, and by updating the prices of all products on a daily basis. Another option to improve the quality of price comparison sites is the adoption of a code of conduct. Such a code of conduct could also be used for other price comparison sites in other industries.

The NMa has evaluated the quality of 21 price comparison sites for savings products and 17 sites for annual multi-trip travel insurances based on various criteria, such as accuracy, completeness, and transparency. Only two travel insurance comparison sites achieved top marks on all criteria, while none of the savings products comparison sites did.

This scan was carried out by the Financial Sector Monitor (MFS), a research team within the NMa that carries out economic research into competition in the financial industry. Price comparison sites can help consumers select financial products, and can stimulate competition among financial-product providers, provided that their quality is good.

Vergelijkingssites Financiële Producten (in Dutch)