If you’re shopping around for insurance, regardless if it’s home, auto, renters, or even pet insurance, you probably know that there is more than one way you can do so. Should you contact an independent agent, shop online (like you’re probably doing now), or call an insurance company directly. What’s best for you? That entirely depends on your likes and dislikes. Here are the pros and cons of each–so you can make a decision that’s perfect for you.
Shopping For Insurance Through Online Comparison Sites
With the birth of the internet, came online comparison shopping for insurance. And with that, also came many pros and cons. Prior to this phenomena, customers were having to give credit card information to each company they considered signing a policy with. When it was discovered that online quoting was faster, easier, and a much cheaper alternative for insurance companies upfront the shopping experience was forever changed.
The difference here to be aware of as a consumer is between whether an insurance company compares its rates to other providers on its website or if you’re looking at third party comparison websites. While companies like Esurance are able to pull data that accurately reflects its premiums, online comparison sites can not.
The problem with online comparison websites is that the quotes they provide aren’t 100% accurate. Unlike when you talk to an agent directly, the online quoting process only asks the bare minimum like your name, age, and address. Without complete information (including credit score, make and model of your car, etc.), insurance quote generators are unable to give you a realistic quote. It’s sort of a catch-22 because online shoppers want things to be fast and painless, but since you aren’t able to take the time to deliver complete information, you could be wasting your time on an unrealistic quote.
You also have to know that most insurance companies don’t allow third party aggregator sites to use their pricing data. The big ones like State Farm, Allstate, and Progressive never give out their premium information to third parties, so you can assume that a Progressive quote from a comparison site is going to be inaccurate.
It’s not that online comparison tools are lying. It’s just that they’re using public rate filings (something every insurance company is forced to file annually) to estimate average premiums. This leads to inaccuracies and frustration if you’re given a low quote on one site, but then call to buy a policy and are presented with much different rates.
Choosing to Shop with an Independent Agent
Independent insurance agents hold licenses to sell policies for one or more insurance companies. They also most likely sell a variety of insurance products, such as life insurance, health insurance, etc.. These independent agents are educated and can give you advice about how much coverage you should buy, which company might be best for you, and more. However, they will only be allowed to sell the insurance they’re licensed to sell. If you call an independent agent because you’re interested in Allstate, but they don’t sell it, you’ll have to spend more time calling another agent who specializes in the insurance company you’re interested in.
Independent agents don’t work directly for the insurance companies they sell policies for. Instead, they usually operate through an intermediary that delivers customer quote information to them in higher amounts. That independent agent will be your point person if you buy a policy through them, but they’re essentially a middleman because they don’t work directly for an insurance company.
In short, the pros of working with an independent agent are that they’ll be able to give you sound advice and accurate quotes for a variety of providers. The con is that not every independent agent sells every insurance company’s policies.
Should You Shop Directly With a Company’s Internal Agent?
Calling an agent at a specific insurance company will provide you with accurate quotes and deep insight. For example, Progressive use 1.5 billion data points about you as a driver and person when you call for a quote. By calling a company of interest directly, you’re also ensuring that the agent on the other line truly is an expert on that company and its insurance offerings.
The downside here, is that you won’t get comparisons. The only way to shop around for the best quote is to call multiple direct agents at different companies, we recommend calling at least three. Then, you can be sure you’re getting the best policy at the best rate.
Our Final Words
How you shop for insurance is ultimately your decision. Our goal is to recommend solutions for you to consider so that you can find the company that is best for you. Because at the end of the day, a perfect company, with insurance designed specifically for people like you is waiting to write you a policy. We hope you’ll use the information above to do so in a fashion that will best suit your style and needs. If you have any questions, you can always call an independent agent at 1.855.462.2213 for immediate help. Good luck and happy shopping!