09/05/2013 11:24 BST | Updated 09/07/2013 06:12 BST

Things to Consider When Buying Car Insurance from Comparison Sites

We've all seen the expensive - and often incredibly annoying - TV adverts about car insurance, and how they can save you money and all the rest of it. But sometimes it has to be about more than just saving money, and more about what it actually covers. You often hear horror stories about people who "believed they were covered" for certain accidents or issues and then found out later on down the line that they weren't actually covered for it at all. Just taking an extra few moments to check through your options could save you the extremely stressful and expensive situation you'll find yourself in.

How do you know which provider is better?

When it comes to shopping around, you can often be bombarded with special offers and discounts if you take out an insurance policy for other areas of your life too, including contents insurance, building insurance and travel insurance. It can get pretty confusing pretty quick, and you might end up paying more than you would like to because you're thinking you're getting a better deal by buying in bulk. There's a chance this could be true, but for the most part its best just to stick to your guns.

You should always do your homework and shop around. There's some great deals out there, and sometimes the best ones aren't the cheapest. The more cover you have, the better chance you have of being protected against anything that might go wrong. Just don't go crazy and protect yourself for alien invasions or anything crazy like that, although I don't think that car insurance policy exists just yet.

Sometimes what stands out are the little things. For example, the car insurer Monkey offers to donate £10 to the charity of your choice when you renew with them. They've donated £45,490 to charities such as Mind, Children with Cancer and Meningitis Research via Just Giving, and for some people this could be a huge factor in making their decision of who they want to shop for car insurance with.

How can you get the best deal?

If you're already insured with a company, it doesn't hurt to shop around to see if you can find a better deal somewhere else first before renewing with them. But before you get excited and switch, why not get on the phone to your insurer and let them know about the deal? Chances are they will find you a better deal with them, and you'll be on to a winner. The worst thing that can happen is they don't match it and you switch to the better deal. It might take a bit of time but if it saves you money, it's got to be worth doing.

Also, if you consider that a number of comparison sites will cut down on cover in order to be the numero uno cheapest guy in town, it means you might not be getting a good deal, just a cheap deal, and there's a difference, especially when it comes to making a claim. When you order anything - such as Broadband for example - you look at the speed and whether it's unlimited before you look at the price. The same rules should apply here, too. Saving pennies and being covered for what you need don't always go hand in hand.

Another way to find what the best deal is for you is to make a checklist of everything you want to be covered for. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How many miles do you drive every day/week/month/year?
  • What kind of car do you drive and how long have you had it?
  • How many people drive the car and are they going to be insured on the same policy?

This will help you find the right policy for you instead of having to sift through all the information to find what it is you need. You should know your insurance policy as well as you know your car: Inside out! Some companies may give you a set number of days to change or cancel your policy, but others may charge you to do so. Read up on your policies and always read the terms and conditions carefully. They're not just there to waste paper!

The best advice anyone can give to somebody looking to get car insurance through a comparison site is that they should be honest when applying. If there are discrepancies on the applications that are discovered later on down the road, you can quickly find yourself with a cancelled policy, a big fat 'no' when it comes time to renewing it, or the worst case scenario: A refusal to pay out.