How Commercial Insurance Price Comparison Sites Compare Business Insurance Quotes

You may think that one commercial insurance price comparison site is much the same as another. Some people swear by them, others cannot stand them but not all price comparison sites are the same. There are two distinct types and each has its own benefits, advantages and disadvantages.

This is why different businesses and commercial enterprises have very different user experiences, depending upon which type of comparison or price aggregator site they have visited. They may well prefer one brand comparison site over another, purely because they prefer the way that particular brand’s website works and this often has nothing to do with the quotes it returns.

In order to understand the large differences it is necessary to get under the bonnet and look at the anatomy of a commercial insurance price comparison website’s internal engine.

Inside a Commercial Insurance comparison

Leaving aside the prices quoted which are subjective and variable, the major factor that differentiates price comparison sites user experiences, is the location of the rating and underwriting engine that produces the quotes.

This engine is the rules based logic that produces the commercial insurance quotes you see in your browser. It can be either local with centralised processing, or remote with what is known as distributed processing.

Centralised comparisons hold all the commercial insurance policy and rating information local to the web server where a prospective businessman can compare quotes.

Distributed comparisons have to visit each insurance company or business insurance broker website to retrieve quotes and all the policy information which is then displayed on the comparison website. Distributed processing comparison websites are known a ‘Scraper sites’ because they scrape data from the fields of one form and pass it into equivalent form fields at a remote web server.

When someone visits a commercial or business insurance comparison website, they will initially be asked what type of cover they require for their business. For example a shop or office policy or perhaps just simple public liability cover. Commercial insurance is particularly difficult to underwrite, so the type of policies that are available on Internet tend to be packages where blanket levels of cover can be offered, in order to be suitable for the widest range of business activity and customers.

However all commercial risks have some common elements such as levels of cover required, which need to be captured in order to auto-rate and make comparisons. These are called rating factors.

Comparison Screens

The user is next presented with a screen that has been tailored to ask specific questions that are necessary to rate the chosen commercial insurance. Both types of comparison website offer variations on a theme for data capture, however both will use a typical form that requires filling.

As a businessman completes the online application form, the data entered requires validation. The values entered need to fit standardised parameters and exclude all those businesses that do not fit this standardisation. This is achieved by limiting the choice of the user. For example, the comparison site when asking the applicant to describe their business activities or trade type, will only present to the user the businesses and trades it can quote for, in the form of a drop down list.

Centralised processing comparisons are much more likely to do all the policy and underwriting criteria validation on the front-end form, with for example validation of postcodes, addresses, eligible business types, and numerical validation on sums insured. The centralised comparison system uses Javascript and calls to local tables This gives the system a very quick user experience and assures that the system can return a range of quotes for the prospective business. It also allows the system the provide as much data about available polices before the quotation process is complete, because it knows as the form is being filled out, what policies offer what covers for each of the questions asked.