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What is a Defaqto rating and how can it help you choose travel insurance?

If you've come across a Defaqto rating when comparing insurance products and wondered what it meant, we’re here to help. This guide will answer what does Defaqto mean, how the ratings work and how they can influence your insurance policy decisions.

If you've come across a Defaqto rating when comparing insurance products and wondered what it meant, we’re here to help. This guide will answer what does Defaqto mean, how the ratings work and how they can influence your insurance policy decisions.

Written by
Rebecca Goodman
Insurance expert
Last Updated
17 MAY 2023
2 min read
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What is a Defaqto rating?

The Defaqto rating system is part of an independent service that compares financial products, including travel insurance.

Defaqto analysts study the market for financial services and products, before giving them a star rating based on the features and benefits they offer, with a Defaqto 5-star rating being the best.

These analysts are constantly surveying the market, researching and analysing new products as they enter the market, to help you make better informed decisions. That’s why it’s such a useful tool when trying to find a new insurance policy.

Defaqto experts have researched, collected and assessed nearly 41,000 financial products, and they are constantly updating their findings so customers have access to the most recent results.

What do the Defaqto stars mean?

The first thing you should probably know about Defaqto star ratings, is that they don’t take price or service into account. They are based purely on the level of features, benefits and terms of the product itself, nothing more.

This aims to prove that the star ratings are based purely on fact, rather than subjective or circumstantial criteria. What may be of great value to you, might not be to someone else, while customer service can be heavily influenced by who’s on the other end of the phone on the day you call up.
 
Here's a breakdown of the Defaqto star ratings: 

  • 1 Star: provides a low offering
  • 2 Stars: provides a below average quality offering
  • 3 Stars: provides an average quality offering
  • 4 Stars: provides a good quality offering
  • 5 Stars: provides one of the highest quality offerings in the market

The ratings are given to the products, not the insurance or credit card providers, and are analysed daily and updated yearly.

How is a Defaqto rating decided?

Defaqto states that their ratings are “based on facts, not opinion”. They remove price and customer service from the equation, as these are more subjective in how they are valued.

Instead, their analysts rate products and services based entirely on the level of cover and benefits they offer, along with the small print that many of us struggle to read properly. Features are individually scored, with the product’s total then used to assign a one to five-star Defaqto rating.

Because of this, a one-star rating doesn’t necessarily mean a product is bad, it’s just that it’s a basic policy with fewer features, but if the price includes what you need, then there’s no reason you shouldn’t choose it. Meanwhile, products that offer the most (useful) features tend to receive a higher rating. In order to receive a four or five-star Defaqto rating, some “core criteria” features must be included.

Defaqto analysts continually examine the markets throughout the year, updating ratings each year on 1 February, to ensure that any product changes are captured.

How can a Defaqto insurance rating help me choose a travel policy?

When comparing travel insurance, the Defaqto rating for an insurance provider will be shown on the quote results page, so you can see which providers have the highest rating.  This will help you make a more informed decision when comparing insurance products.

Knowing that products have been rated based on their quality from an independent service gives peace of mind that each policy has been thoroughly examined to provide an expert, unbiased assessment.

However, just because a product has a five-star rating, and another has a three-star rating, it doesn’t mean you should always go for the five-star one. As we mentioned earlier, a Defaqto rating is based entirely on the product or service’s features, benefits and terms. Price and service aren’t considered at all, and these things may be more important to you. 
 
At the end of the day, you need to find the right product that suits your needs. A travel insurance package with fewer features, that’s far cheaper, might still cover you for what you need, so you could save yourself some money by choosing a three-star product.

For example, a five-star travel insurance product may include cover for skiing and mountain climbing, but if you’re spending a week on a Caribbean beach, you won’t need any of that, so why pay more for it? 
 
While we recommend considering a Defaqto rating when comparing products, you shouldn’t solely base your purchase on them. Value is really important and getting the best deal for your money. You should always consider customer service ratings too, so you know you’re in safe hands if something does go wrong.

What are the downsides of the Defaqto system?

Like most things, Defaqto ratings aren’t perfect. There are a number of disadvantages to relying purely on these, and you should always look for a range of sources when researching a product.  
 
So, what are the disadvantages of Defaqto ratings?

  • They don’t consider price – Defaqto ratings only review products and services based on their features. If a product receives five stars and it’s five times the price of a four-star product, it may not be the right deal for you.
  • They don’t consider customer service – while a travel insurance policy might have all the features in the world, if the person you’re going to talk to when you need that help most is unhelpful, then a bad situation can be made worse. Always look for a customer service rating when considering a provider, to ensure that you’re well looked after when you need it.
  • How the ratings are calculated – certain features and benefits are weighted differently, which can make complicated products like insurance policies difficult to distill into a single Defaqto rating. Products and services are all treated equally in the calculations, but things you consider important may not hold equal value by them. 

This is why it’s important not to rely on one rating system. You wouldn’t go on holiday based on just one friend’s opinion so apply the same method to picking travel insurance. Look at a few different reviews, check how the company is doing on social media and how they respond to customers, and always compare the price before you buy.

Customers with more serious pre-existing medical conditions 

No matter what kind of insurance you buy, you need to declare any pre-existing health conditions to the insurance provider. This may affect the price you pay but it’s unavoidable – in fact, if you fail to mention a health condition, your policy might be rejected if you ever need to make a claim.

When you declare medical conditions on our website, we’ll only show quotes from insurance providers who will cover all declared medical conditions, with no exclusions.

MoneyHelper has launched a directory of insurance providers who may be able to provide quotes over the phone if you have more serious medical conditions. Find more information at MoneyHelper or by calling them on 0800 138 7777.

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Rebecca Goodman - personal finance expert

Rebecca Goodman is a freelance financial journalist who specialises in insurance, personal finance and consumer affairs. Rebecca regularly writes for national newspapers including The Independent and The Mail on Sunday on a wide-range of financial topics. She covers everything from money-saving tips and holiday advice to investigations into how energy efficient appliances can cut the cost of household bills and the impact donating money can have on those in need. Along with features in national papers, Rebecca also writes news stories for websites including Yourmoney.com and The Money Edit.

Learn more about Rebecca

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