Review: testing the UK’s first Alexa car insurance skill

I’ve reviewed all manner of car-related things before in this job - from supercars to dash cams but this review is something new. Not a car, accessory or gadget but a service.

Insurance comparison site Confused.com has become the first in the country to integrate its quote service into Amazon’s all-knowing Alexa digital assistant.

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It says the service “aims to offer people a faster means of comparing car insurance across multiple channels as they adopt new technologies and occupy new spaces”. In other words, everyone’s far too busy staring at their phones to bother booting up a computer to get an insurance quote.

Confused claims that the new Alexa skill allows existing customers to get a renewal quote for their car insurance in seconds with just one voice command so, looking for any way to avoid the pain of searching for car insurance, I decided to see just how well it works.

The idea is that as long as you have a Confused account with current details, once you’ve activated the skill you can ask it to “find me cheap car insurance” and it will run a new search then email you the cheapest results.

And, somewhat to my surprise, it works. Shouting the instruction at an Alexa-enabled device got an instant response as it set to work comparing prices and a minute later, after enduring some excruciating hold music, I had a new insurance quote. No mistakes, no misunderstandings, quick and simple.

UPDATE: On my first two attempts the skill worked but simply sent an email to my inbox with the best quotes. However, subsequent tests showed that it will actually read out the best quote for you, which addresses one of my biggest complaints about the skill - that of having to check another device to retrieve your quote.

Once you've got that quote you will still then have to use the Confused app or website to accept it or check other competitive quotes.

I also encountered an issue with the information in my account being out of date. Confused's product team insists that your data should "age" with you, so the calculations should take into account increasing experience and no-claims bonus. However, when I checked my account the data was three years out of date and had to be updated manually.

A smaller related issue is that the skill is only good for your existing vehicle. If you've changed car, you have to update your details manually via the website or app. Likewise, if you've changed jobs or had a claim or conviction, the skill can't help.

Within those limitations, the service itself works well as a quick way to get a rough quote, especially if you've just had your renewal notice. But I struggle to see the point. Voice control’s great for stuff you do every day, like manage your music playlist or get the news headlines but for something that literally takes three minutes once a year, using this skill seems faintly pointless and hardly any quicker when you still have to use the website or app to buy the policy.