Tesco muscles in on online price comparison market

Tesco muscles in on online price comparison market

UK supermarket chain Tesco has entered the crowded online price comparison market with the launch of a motor insurance Web site.

The launch of Tesco Compare.com marks the first time a UK supermarket will be offering personal finance products from a variety of different brands, says Tesco Personal Finance - a 50:50 joint venture between the UK supermarket and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which is the UK's biggest motor insurer.

The new service will be available to customers from September 14 and lists details of about 30 products. In addition to comparing insurance by price the service compares over 25 policy features.

Commenting on the launch, Robin Bulloch, CEO, Tesco Personal Finance, says: "People are increasingly using Web sites to choose their insurance and they have told us they trust Tesco to provide one. They have told us they want our service to go beyond price comparison and that's what we've done.

"Tesco Compare.com sets itself apart from the competition by listing some great brands on our site that no other aggregator lists and we will be adding to the list of insurance brands over the coming months."

Tesco is entering the increasingly crowded and competitive online price comparison market in the UK, which includes Confused.com - which is owned by UK insurance group Admiral - and Moneysupermarket.com which listed on the LSe in July.

Confused.com has already slammed Tesco's new offering, claiming the range of products offered by the supermarket is insufficient because a quarter of the 30 brands featured are owned by RBS.

"It is also interesting that RBS - which provide Tesco with its insurance products - owns Direct Line, the one major insurance brand that refuses to allow consumers to compare its prices via comparison services, and has recently been attacking sites just like Tesco Compare," says Debra Williams, MD, Confused.com.

Aron Thompson, head of insurance at online price comparison and switching service uSwitch.com, echoes Williams' comments and says it will be interesting to see if the RBS brand Direct Line continues its refusal to be listed against its peers.

"This is a particularly interesting move by the (RBS) group that, to date, has not allowed any of its brands onto a price comparison service," adds Thompson. "We hope that RBS will now work with uSwitch.com and other comparison sites in order to create a level playing field so that consumers have a free and open market from which they can compare policies."

Through various brands such as Churchill, Direct Line and Privilege, and partnerships with companies including Virgin, Lloyds TSB and Nationwide, RBS is thought to control over 30% of the UK's motor insurance market.

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