We've all been bombarded with "shop around" messages when it comes to utility bills.

We’ve all got friends and family that boast endlessly about how much they’ve saved on their electricity, who bang on about how easy it was to switch their gas supplier, or even what a great deal on the latest iPhone they got from their mobile provider, because they threatened to pull their valuable business.

They're annoying, aren't they?

Yes, those of us more prone to non-switching, twitch when the conversation begins. Some of us are the more brand loyal ones. But, chances are we are also the ones who spend more on those utility bills.

So, when it comes to car insurance, home insurance or health cover - are we slower to change?

It's definitely the case with health cover. Naturally we are anxious about lead in times for cover on certain illnesses. But, shopping around when it comes to insurance could dwarf our saving on utility bills. 

The ease of checking your health insurance policy benefits and alternative policies, which will save money, is really staggering. The Health Insurance Authority provides an online tool and price comparison websites make it easier still. 

Chances are if you’ve been on your existing policy for some time, it may be outdated and replaced by one with similar cover, but a lower premium. So log on to hia.ie and check it out.

Likewise with motor insurance. For years, as a driver, I've been swapping between different brokers and companies. It is very rare that the same company gets my business year after year. 

So, treat them mean to keep them keen!

Also, check out the level of cover you have. Is it really necessary to have fully comprehensive? Could you be adequately covered with third party, fire and theft? Is your partner also named on the policy? This can often bring down your premium;  someone in a stable relationship is perhaps more risk averse or likely to bring in more business.

The reforms announced today are "tiny" according to the Alliance for Insurance Reform. They may be tiny, but they are not insignificant. They give us an extra week to get a head start on shopping around and on the cover page of our policy renewal we will see last year’s premium. So, straight away you know if you’re facing a hike in price.

The issue is that reform comes slowly. Vested interests on all sides fight hard to maintain the status quo.

It's like the catch cry of the industry is, "what do we want? Modest reform. When do we want it? In due course!"

That's  because everything we save as consumers comes off the bottom line of insurance companies, and they exist to make money, so making less money does not sit well with the shareholders. 

So, for now, box clever, shop around, see what else is out there. 

And, don't be afraid to take face some small hassle to change company, to save money, and to make them think about keeping you next year. 

As a new customer, with a new customer discount.

Quids in!