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How to buy insurance

Policies and prices vary from insurer to insurer, so shop around for the best cover for your needs.

How to buy insurance

There are a number of ways of buying insurance. You can research the information yourself before buying a policy, or seek professional advice if you are unsure about the kind of cover you need.

You can buy insurance: 

  • directly from an insurance company, either online or by phone
  • via a price comparison website which will compare the cost of the insurance product you want from different insurance companies
  • through an insurance broker via the British Insurance Brokers' Association (BIBA) 
  • through a financial adviser via the Association of Professional Financial Advisors and / or unbiased.co.uk, a comprehensive website where you can find specialist, professional financial advisers
  • as part of another package, for example with a bank or building society account 

What to consider when buying insurance

    • what you need your policy to cover
    • what you do not need cover for. Don't pay for unnecessary extras that will push up the price of your premium. For example, if you're buying motor insurance think about whether you need your policy to include courtesy car cover
    • what exclusions the policy might have
    • who the policy covers – you, your family or loved ones
    • shop around for the best deal, but never buy a policy based on price alone – the cheapest policy may not cover all of your needs
    • make sure you answer all the insurer's questions honestly and to the best of your knowledge – the information your insurer needs will be relevant to the policy you are buying. For example, for health insurance tell your insurer your full medical history, or for motor insurance disclose your full driving history. If you're unsure whether information is relevant or not – include it. For more - see Consumer Insurance Act.
    • people in some situations (such as those with criminal convictions, a history of bankruptcy, or of a certain age) may find it more difficult to find to access insurance, but they can usually find cover through a specialist broker via BIBA
    • if you are unsure of what type of product you need, go to the Money Advice Service (MAS) website for more information. The MAS is an independent body set up by government to help people make the most of their money.
    • make sure that you are buying a policy from a genuine insurance provider – for more information see illegal insurance advisers
    • if you have a criminal conviction see the Unlock Information Hub on insurance


After buying a policy 

Read the terms and conditions of your policy  

You should read your policy's full terms and conditions. They should be clear and easy to understand. If after reading your policy in full you think that the product you have purchased may not be the right one for you, or if you have any questions, contact your insurer straight away. 

Cooling off periods

When you buy the policy you will be given a cooling off period which gives you a set period of time within which to cancel it, should you change your mind. 

Insurance companies have a regulatory obligation to offer a cooling off period of between 14 and 45 days, depending on the type of product you have purchased. You will find more information in the Your right to change your mind document, which you will receive as part of your policy documentation.