When it comes to finding the lowest cost health insurance or the best package for broadband or pay TV, spending some time shopping around for the best deal online can result in some pretty big savings.
However, many older Australians don’t actually take the time to compare deals and offers, or may be unsure where to start, instead opting to stay with providers they know and trust, sometimes after decades of loyalty.
Rod Attrill, General Manager of Banking at Compare the Market, spoke to Starts at 60 about the pitfalls of remaining with the same supplier for an extended period of time, after a new study revealed that 40 per cent of Aussie seniors are classed as financially vulnerable, and explained that people could unwittingly be paying more than they need to for products and services
“It worries me that two in five Baby Boomers are classed as financially vulnerable,” Attrill said. “But [I think] shopping around or comparing premiums and rates is where we will start to see the change.
“There are a lot of websites, like ours, where you can compare things like a small mortgage, a credit card or an electricity bill. You just input your details and it will give you a range of other operators that might be able to offer you a better deal.”
Attrill added that many senior Australians choose to stick with the same provider they’ve been using for years despite the fact they may no longer be the most suitable or cost-effective choice, citing his own parents as prime examples, having banked with the same institution for six decades.
Comparison websites not only help customers ensure they are getting the best deal possible for their hard-earned cash, but can also highlight other options or services customers may not have been aware of otherwise.
However, Attrill acknowledged the fact that, due to the sheer mass of information available online nowadays, it can be a daunting task, leaving some older Australians unsure who to trust or where to look in order to find the best deal.
“There are people out there who can help,” Attrill added. “They can contact us online or, if they’re not comfortable doing that, just give us a ring. It could even be a matter of just ringing their current provider and asking ‘can you confirm I’m on the best plan or the best mortgage available?’.
“It’s that proactive need to actually go out and check things because I think that some over-70s just expect that, because they’ve been loyal to their providers, they are getting the best deal.”
Attrill also believes banks and providers need to do more to educate and inform their customers about what they can offer them. He told us that if companies provided consumers with six-monthly or annual updates, detailing their offers and tariffs, it would make the task of comparing and selecting the best deal to suit your needs far more straightforward.
“I think the industry has a massive part to play in educating people, regardless of what age group they’re in. But it can’t be the same across every Australian because some of the more mature generations just don’t feel comfortable – and sometimes they don’t have anyone to ask, that’s the real challenge.”