Price comparison sites report return to normality after Covid disruption

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Price comparison sites saw the beginnings of a gradual return to pre-pandemic consumer behaviours in May, having seen search volumes plummet in the initial weeks of the lockdown.

Go Compare reported this week that car insurance search volumes had started to recover in May, and were on average flat year-on-year between 9 and 23 May, having declined by around 25% at the start of lockdown, between 18 April and 21 March.

Matthew Crummack, CEO of the Goco group, told Post: “Overall, we’re really pleased with where the business is. April was a tough month for everybody, but May was better, and now we’re looking better year-on-year in June.

“One of the reasons April was difficult was because most the country was just distracted. They were watching 24-hour news, social media, and trying to figure out how to manage life. As they got on top of that in May they started to reverse to their normal behaviours.

“Certainly in categories like car and home insurance, people are reverting to the pre-Covid behaviours.”

Go Compare also reported that 6% of people had delayed purchasing insurance policies during lockdown, with 60% of those intending to purchase products after the crisis has passed.

Crummack added: “The economy is only starting come back to normality. There might be some short increases as people begin to catch up on things they didn’t do before, but I would expect over time things will normalise back to where they were pre-Covid-19.”

The outlook is similar elsewhere. Louise O’Shea, CEO of Confused, told Post: “Normal buying behaviour seemed to go out of the window when all of this started as people got to grips with the situation we’re all faced with.

“As things have settled down our core products, car and home, have returned to normal.”

One area that remains disrupted is travel insurance. Both Go Compare and Confused have suspended their travel insurance comparisons, with major providers having pulled their products off the market in March.

“Our travel insurance comparison is still suspended, as government guidance is still advising against non-essential travel,” said O’Shea.

“This was the right decision as we do not want our customers to buy travel insurance which is invalid until restrictions are lifted.

“We’ll be following the government’s advice closely with a view to re-introducing the service at an appropriate time.”

Go Compare too said that its travel insurance services will remain unavailable until the UK’s travel guidance is changed.

“We’ll only start doing that when people are allowed to travel again and start picking up travel again,” said Crummack.

“It is a smallish part of our business. Clearly, it has an impact, but it’s very manageable within the overall context of our business.

Elsewhere, the aggregator expects that the reopening of car showrooms on 1 June will lead to a bump in car insurance search volumes.

“People couldn’t buy cars in April or May and people couldn’t take driving tests,” said Crummack.

“The search volumes are now coming back and I anticipate that we’ll see increasing demand for services like ours over time not decreasing, because people need to take care of their finances and a good 30% of people in this country right now worried about their finances.”

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