Comparison sites: friend or foe?

by Trevor Treharne29 Sep 2012

EXCLUSIVE: Australian Broker's sister publication, Insurance Business spoke with the managing director of comparison site Choosi to discuss if it will battle insurance brokers or target commercial insurance and small businesses in the future…

With comparisons sites like Choosi predicted to expand in coming years to match the more mature UK market where one in four insurance transactions, it has left some insurance brokers concerned their traditional business could be affected.
Insurance Business spoke with David Rees, managing director of Choosi to see if the firm’s future plans are likely to impact brokers…
“There is a huge consumer demand for choice and convenience,” said Rees. “But we are not a broker, we are not making recommendations. Our business model is about providing consumers with the information they need to make the right choice.
“We are looking to save consumers time and remove confusion by presenting that information in a simple and meaningful way for them,” he said. “Our model taps into consumer behaviour, we are not trying to be an alternative to a broker. We are simply an alternative sales channel which diversifies how people can buy direct insurance.”
The main threat for traditional insurance brokers would be if comparisons sites like Choosi started to target the commercial insurance space more heavily. So is such diversification on the cards at Choosi?
“We are definitely looking to expand into some new categories very soon and you should see some movement there in the next couple of months,” said Rees.
As for if Choosi will be targeting commercial insurance and small businesses specifically, Rees stated: “the UK has moved in that direction, at the moment we are focused on our direct consumer products, but we would never say never to a business or commercial opportunity”.
The success of an insurance comparison site can hinge on how many insurers it has on its books, an area that insurance brokers excel in with a broad book of options. Will Choosi be able to match these options?
“We launched health insurance in May and at that time we wondered if we should go and get the whole market, which is almost 40 health funds? Or do we find the right number which presents a balanced choice, but does not provide too much choice. We feel it is about providing a bit of tunnel-vision and offering the right number of options,” added Rees.