July 14, 2024

Do you shop around when your insurance company or energy supplier sends you a bill with increased prices?

If the answer is no, you might be missing out on savings, because these companies often offer better deals to new customers than existing ones.

You might be surprised to find out that comparing and switching policies and plans isn’t that hard or time consuming.

Here are three changes that can help boost your household budget — and you can do all three in a few hours or even less.

How much can you save by switching energy providers?

If you live in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania or the Australian Capital Territory, you can compare electricity and gas plans on the Energy Made Easy website, which is operated by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER).

AER chair Clare Savage says many consumers on old or uncompetitive plans can save between $120–$221 per year by switching.

If you live in Victoria, you can compare prices using the Victorian Energy Compare website. The state government says people who used the site saved $330 on average in the first year alone.

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How long does it take: half an hour

It took less than three minutes to check my electricity bill using the Victorian website. As I’d switched providers recently, I was glad to find out I was already on the most competitive plan.

The process of switching providers can take more time, as some companies require a phone call to sign up.

However, I’ve switched providers many times, and often it’s as simple as filling out an online form with the new provider — a task that can take only a few minutes. If you live in a different state, your mileage may vary.

It’s a good habit to shop around every time your energy provider changes prices.

How much money can you save by switching car insurance?

ABC reporter David Taylor recently had a rude shock when he found his car insurance premium had risen 19.5 per cent.

After a 15-minute phone call, his insurer offered to reduce the increase to 13 per cent — and he was happy to accept.

When consumer advocacy group Choice compared quotes for adult drivers, the difference between the highest and lower quotes was $652–$1,171 per year depending on the state or territory.

How long does it take: up to two hours

Checking insurance quotes isn’t as easy as comparing energy plans.

It took me about 15 minutes to get three online quotes — thankfully, none were cheaper than my current premium.

With insurance, there’s more to compare than just the price: you also need to look at cover provided, exclusions and the excess.

To factor in reading the policy documents and signing up to a new policy (which may involve a phone call), I’d estimate a total time of two hours.

Choice recommends shopping around every time you are sent a renewal notice and getting at least three quotes from different insurers.

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