UK high street bank Lloyds TSB has become the latest firm to enter the crowded online price comparison market by launching a motor insurance aggregator Web site.
The Lloyds site - which has the insurance.co.uk domain name - offers a choice of policies from a panel of over 35 firms providing car and motorcycle cover.
In addition to price comparison, the site also searches for policies based on the individual elements of cover consumers need and the overall level of service offered by policy providers.
Lloyds says the new service offer customers "a streamlined and user friendly experience from start to finish", with the quote process completed in as few as four online pages. The site also includes a storage area for people to securely hold policy information.
Commenting on the launch Steve Grainger, head, insurance.co.uk, says: "For too long now, consumers have had to make do with comparison sites that offer only some of the information they need to make the right choices. Although there's no shortage of online services that claim to compare insurance policies, you'd be hard pressed to find one that can truly demonstrate it's built on a solid understanding of what consumers want."
In recent years, the number of consumers using comparison sites has risen dramatically and indications are that the market is likely to double over the next three years, says Lloyds TSB.
With the launch of the site Lloyds TSB becomes the first UK bank to go it alone to launch a comparison service, but it is entering a crammed market and will compete directly with rival services from Tesco Compare.com - a 50:50 joint venture between the supermarket and the Royal Bank of Scotland - as well as Confused.com, Gocompare.com and Moneysupermarket, among others.
Furthermore the online comparison industry is currently under scrutiny from the Financial Services Authority which is reviewing the regulation of sites amid concerns that current rules do not adequately protect customers.
The move followed warnings from the British Insurance Brokers' Association that the current Insurance Conduct of Business rules for "electronic introductions" are outdated as they were finalised prior to the development of price aggregation Web sites.
Following its inquiry, the FSA could revise its guidance, enhance supervision, or make changes to regulation.