Some protection comparison websites are delivering better outcomes for clients than advisers, according to Kevin Carr, chief executive of Protection Review.
Consumers in the market are being let down by advisers who tend to recommend critical illness (CI) products on price alone and who do not explore how policies vary, Carr said.
Conversely, some comparison sites, such as Payingtoomuch.com, are now presenting consumers with other variables on which to select a product, prompting them to select comprehensive cover even though it may be more expensive.
Carr said: "In Protection Review adviser training sessions we talk about how CI policies vary, [for example by] including early stage cancers, but there are always a few who say ‘this is too complicated, why can't they be the same?'
"We always said advisers need products to vary in order to add value to their advice and differentiate from non-advisers. However, we now show a comparison site driving customers away from buying the cheapest, without giving advice."
When providing quotes for CI, Payingtoomuch.com indicates which insurers include certain extras as part of the cover and which do not, and its managing director, Michael Ward, said this is influencing their buying behaviour.
"What we are finding is that such information is driving people to purchase more comprehensive products on a non-advised basis, even if they cost a little bit more. For example, we see males selecting Ageas on the basis of their male cancer definition and females going to Friends Life for the same reason."
He added that, when provided with clear and simple information, very few customers buy reviewable plans when given a clear choice.
"So the difference this year," concluded Carr, "is that we are now saying that advisers who sell CI on price and don't talk about early stage cancers are not the same as a comparison site, but in fact worse."
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