Insurance Comparison Sites: What You Need to Know

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A New Resource for Insurance Comparison Sites

With nearly 6,000 insurance companies in the U.S., is it any wonder the hapless insurance customer is bewildered by choices and frazzled by investigation? Everyone knows the conscientious shopper compares prices and quality before making a purchase, but actually doing that is quite a different thing, especially when it comes to car and home insurance. Hours of research are needed to compare insurance policies from even a few companies, never mind, say, 10. After all, each insurance company will rate you differently, based on how that firm weighs each risk factor.

To relieve you of the effort, time and guesswork associated with tracking down the best, lowest-cost insurance, several new insurance comparison sites promise to compare all the available policies to pinpoint the one that's perfect for you. In the blink of an eye, these insurance comparison sites can dig through reams of data to find the optimum risk protection the market has to offer. When a customer clicks a button to compare, for example, auto insurance rates, the right answer arrives on a silver platter. What could be easier? Now, let's see how all these insurance comparison sites compare.

Are All Insurance Comparison Sites the Same?

So many sites have cropped up in recent years that one wonders if we need a comparison site that compares the comparison sites! They're all different! And so is their quote comparison for drivers and homeowners.

The most obvious reason for this difference is that each site uses its own algorithms to assess insurance companies and their policies. For example, in the unlikely event that two competing algorithms somehow employed the exact same set of factors, they would surely weigh each of those factors in a different way. As Aristotle noted long ago, such seemingly small differences in the beginning make for enormous differences in the end.

Another reason these sites vary from each other is that each company has different relationships with different insurance carriers. Thus, a comparison website may push you to an insurance policy because of the site's special relationship with that particular insurance company, not because that particular policy is the best for you and your unique circumstances.

Let's look at five specific companies that advertise their expertise in helping customers compare insurance policies.

SmartFinancial. Established in 2012, SmartFinancial's website uses artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and cutting-edge algorithms to save its customers hundreds of dollars a year on auto and home insurance. Partners with more than 200 carriers, SmartFinancial not only gives you the best insurance quotes but actually matches you with the right insurance company, based on your coverage needs and budget. Not only that, its network of licensed agents are all experts in the field with years of experience behind them. In short, SmartFinancial takes the rating process a step further and will match you with the best value insurer in minutes. Because they partner with so many insurers, you never have to worry about bias. SmartFinancial has an A+ from the Better Business Bureau (BBB). What's more? They also offer phone service for folks who don't want to fill out a questionnaire online. Just call 855-214-2291.

EverQuote. Founded in 2008, this Cambridge, Mass., firm claims to save its customers hundreds of dollars a year in insurance costs. An online resource, EverQuote says that, overall, its website visitors—more than 10 million a month—have a positive experience. However, having filled out the site's online forms, most customers complain of receiving repeated and constant unsolicited phone calls, emails and texts from unknown third parties. Also, the site acts more as an insurance-company aggregator than as a full-fledged comparison site. According to one customer, after you have filled out the site's online forms, you are given links to four insurance carriers, which means filling out even more forms and making your own comparisons. With a customer satisfaction score of 2.06 out of 5 and an overall B rating from the Better Business Bureau, EverQuote may not be for everyone.

Gabi. Launched in 2016, Gabi offers comparison pricing on car and home insurance products. Oddly, is only accessible to people who have a mobile phone, which may be an inconvenience to some buyers and a reason for the company's Better Business Bureau satisfaction rating of 1.74 out of 5. Further, although the website says it will give quotes within minutes, these quotes do not reflect real-time numbers and some customers claim they have waited weeks for their results. Then again, the BBB gives the San Francisco-based firm an overall B+ score, which isn't bad.

Insurify. Headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., this company was founded as an MIT-based start-up in 2016. Insurify provides real-time insurance quotes on basic coverage options and sports an easy-to-use website. For instance, the site has a sidebar feature that allows you to narrow your search by coverage type, budget and other factors. On the downside, since no quotes are displayed until the customer's phone number is entered, some folks have complained of unwanted phone calls. Insurify is a good bet if you want a third party to compare car insurance quotes using real-time car insurance rates. Insurify received a Clearsurance customer-satisfaction rating of 3.82 out of 5, and it has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.

ValuePenguin. Three Wall Street players started this website in 2013. Based in New York City, the company employs analysts that give guidance to customers on a wide range of financial issues. In other words, ValuePenguin is not an insurance specialist, and it does not offer comparison quotes. So, if you're looking for a site that will compare car insurance quotes in a full-scale, in-depth car insurance comparison, you might look for a car-focused site to compare auto insurance rates. After filling out the website's online questionnaire, one visitor reports that he was presented with a link to just one major insurance company—that's it. ValuePenguin has not been rated by Consumer Affairs, Standard & Poor's or the Better Business Bureau.

TheZebra. With a Better Business Bureau customer satisfaction rating of 4.5 out of 5 and an A rating, this Austin, Texas based firm also claims to save customers hundreds a year on car insurance, but its sole focus is car insurance. The company will compare car insurance quotes and then give you those auto insurance rates. Customers looking to comparison-shop home, business, health or life insurance for multi-policy discounts might want to look elsewhere. While TheZebra claims never to sell its customers' information, some still report receiving unwanted spam and phone calls.

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What To Expect from Insurance Comparison Sites

Websites that compare auto insurance companies will give you an auto insurance quote from the top auto insurance companies, such as Geico, Allstate, Farmers and State Farm. But SmartFinancial will also give you rock-bottom auto insurance rates from smaller insurers that are well regarded in the industry.

A superior site will serve up your car insurance quotes in just a few minutes, finding the top insurance companies and other insurance providers that have the financial strength to protect you in case of an accident. Of all the insurance comparison sites online SmartFinancial does it best and faster. Not only do SmartFinancial's services help you save, they offer personalized quotes for motorist coverage, full coverage and comprehensive coverage for the best price, personalized quotes for teen drivers and young drivers, home and auto insurance for baby boomers, insurance services for those with bad credit or no credit, and home and auto for average safe drivers. Remember, comparison shopping is the key; it's just a matter of how you do it. Doing it on your own will take hours, even days.

What Information Do Insurance Comparison Sites Ask For?

Most sites will request the same information: your zip code and vehicle make and model as well as your gender, marital status, age, credit score and driving history. If you're buying car insurance, they will ask if you own a home. They will ask about any lapses between policies and whether you've had a DUI. Of course, if another driver on your policy has a DUI or points on their license, those factors will negatively impact your overall rate. On the other hand, someone with a great driving record could improve your rate.

With SmartFinancial, you don't have to type, type, type in all this information in order to do an auto insurance comparison: You can speak with a qualified agent on the phone (855-214-2291), all in a one-on-one consultation, if you prefer it over filling out the form online. But, if you do choose to answer the questions online, you will only be asked to fill out one form.

It's important to note that a customer is put at a disadvantage if they don't tell the whole and complete truth when giving this information. For example, if you've had an accident in the past five years, that fender-bender will show up on your driving record. Generally speaking, tickets go back about three years. Indeed, most sites have an in-house department that will call up your record and fact-check your answers. Most customers don't know that a little white lie may actually place them in a higher-risk group.

It's also important to note that sites are free of charge. If a site asks for your credit-card information, that's a big red flag. Look for another site, and don't look back.

How Accurate Are Insurance Comparison Sites?

Of all its competitors, the SmartFinancial insurance comparison site is the most accurate and comprehensive. Operating in the real-time insurance marketplace, it knows insurance rates will be different on different days. In fact, every insurance company's rates constantly fluctuate. Therefore, customers should be aware that an estimate could be very different from the price they end up paying. SmartFinancial proffers real-time quotes. This feature is very important because SmartFinancial's numbers are updated immediately, meaning your quote will be the same or very close to the policy's actual price.

Zebra, Insurify and other sites claim to have the most accurate rates, but they don't take as many factors into consideration to come up with the best option; they give you several options to pursue. SmartFinancial pairs you with one agent and the best policy that matches your needs and budget.

What if I Have a DUI on My Driving Record?

Someone with a DUI or an accident or two will want a different insurer than someone with good credit and a spotless driving record. SmartFinancial partners with insurers that specialize in helping drivers with a DUI or a poor driving history. And while SmartFinancial provides quotes from the oldest and largest insurance companies, it never overlooks smaller carriers that can save you hundreds of dollars. In short, insurance is not a one-size-fits-all product and you want to compare quotes with an insurance comparison site that takes all factors into consideration.

The No. 1 fastest-growing insurance comparison website, SmartFinancial, has paired millions of customers with the right local agent. Lev Barinkiy, the founder and CEO of SmartFinancial, began his career as an Allstate agent, and he's been refining the insurance shopping experience ever since. As a Forbes Council member, he has contributed many insurance-related articles to Forbes magazine about how technology is changing the insurance-shopping experience.

How Do I Use Insurance Comparison Sites?

Most sites will want the same information an in-person insurance agent would, including your car's VIN, the model and make of the car, your driving history, marital status, occupation, the car's garaging address and other personal facts. Most companies employ encryption or block encryption for security, so you can enter your personal information and vehicle information with confidence.

SmartFinancial not only protects your information with state-of-the-art fire-wall security, it also gives you the option of answering these questions by completing an online form or by speaking with a live agent, simply by calling an insurance agent at 855-214-2291.

Even though you can cull different rates from different comparison sites, such a strategy is not recommended.

When comparing rates, it's best to work with just one site: Since that site will use its own proprietary algorithms exclusively and consistently, you can at least be sure that the policies are being evaluated by the same criteria. If you use two sites, you will get bombarded with calls and/or emails. Comparison shopping with the best insurance comparison site is key because your credit history (credit score), insurance claims history or the amount of coverage you want shouldn't stop you from securing a reliable insurance policy at a low price.

To start the process, the SmartFinancial site only requests your zip code. This step allows SmartFinancial to determine which insurance companies are operating in your area. This step also helps SmartFinancial to locate licensed insurance agents who are in or near your hometown. Of course, this local agent is a crucial connection; after all, this agent will be verifying all your information to substantiate your risk profile.

You may be paired with a "captive" agent, which is an agent who represents just one company, such as Geico or Farmers. But based on your answers, you may be paired with an independent agent. Unlike a captive agent, an independent can give you several quotes from several different companies. SmartFinancial has a network of thousands of agents, so you'll be sure to get the one that best suits you.

Do Insurance Companies Compare Quotes?

Some insurance companies give direct quotes but only of their own prices, not their competitors'. Progressive will provide a side-by-side comparison, but its proprietary tool does not work in all 50 states. SmartFinancial always gives you the lowest comparison quotes for your insurance requirements, no matter what state you live in. Your personal information will always be secure, and our licensed insurance advisers can compare rates in all 50 states.

18 Ways to Save on Car Insurance

Did you just get your driver's license? Are you one of those defensive drivers that's looking for an upgrade from a licensed insurance broker? Do you have not-so-good credit or a flat-out poor credit history and want to compare rates? These tips can help you save and get the best price, no matter the amount of coverage you seek. Smart drivers will compare car insurance rates in a deep-dive car insurance comparison.

1. Bundle your insurance policies. Most insurance companies offer discounts for multi-policy holders. For example, if you use the same insurance company for both your car and homeowners insurance, you'll likely save money on your premium.

2. Insure all your cars with the same company. You can save money with a multi-car discount. How many drivers are in your family? You could save up to $1,000 without trying very hard!

3. Pay once or twice a year. Rather than signing up for monthly payments, drivers should pay every six months or just pay the entire annual amount if they can. When you pay only once or twice a year, your premium will be lower than when you make monthly installments.

4. Keep a clean driving record. Safe drivers with no at-fault accidents, no speeding tickets, no moving violations and no DUIs will save money on your premium. There is something called a "good drivers" discount, so let a car insurance company know about your squeaky-clean record. They may have an auto insurance policy that is just right for you.

5. Check for safety features. If your car has certain safety features—for instance, anti-theft devices—your premium will be lower. Your insurance company will have a list of safety features it recognizes, so be sure to see if you qualify for multiple discounts. Remember, it takes time to find the right insurance policy, so always compare rates. Discounts for safety features can save drivers money.

6. Check organizations. Members of particular professional organizations and affiliations get discounts on car insurance. Look to see if the memberships in your wallet will help to lower your car insurance premium. Drivers can use their personal information to score discounts.

7. Insure less on older vehicles. With older cars, drivers can save money by dropping the collision coverage and comprehensive coverage. The maximum payout for collision and comprehensive is limited by the value of the car. Thus, if your older car has a low market value (generally speaking, $4000 or less), it may not make financial sense to carry comprehensive and collision coverages any longer.

8. Shop around. This tip is the biggest of them all. To save money on car insurance, you'll need to compare insurance rates from several insurance companies. SmartFinancial makes this easy to do. To get started, just enter your zip code and then answer a few, quick questions. In no time you'll be comparing auto insurance rates from car insurance companies near you. SmartFinancial has access to more than 200 insurance firms so you are bound to find the insurance coverage and price that you want.

9. Choose a higher deductible. A deductible is the amount you need to pay before your auto insurance company begins to pay for damages to your car or any incurred losses. Choosing a higher deductible will help to lower your car insurance premium. Here's another tip: Put the deductible amount in a small emergency fund. That way, the money will be there if you need to file a claim.

10. Maintain your insurance. You'll pay higher insurance rates if you don't maintain continuous coverage of your auto insurance. If you stick with your insurance provider, you'll save money on your premium. New drivers can get insurance quotes online to make an insurance quote comparison. Even drivers with poor credit can get full coverage.

11. Check for other discounts. Students, veterans and good drivers all may be eligible for discounts on car insurance. Reach out to your insurance agency to see if you qualify. If you don't have an insurance agency, there are a plethora of insurance providers—Liberty Mutual, State Farm and Allstate, to name just a few—so make your insurance quote comparison now or find a third-party company that specializes in auto insurance comparison.

12. Get married. Since there is a correlation between being married and exhibiting safe driving behavior, married people have lower car insurance rates. Before you compare auto insurance quotes in a grand car insurance comparison, be sure to tell your agent that you're hitched.

13. Buy a home. Statistics show that people who own a home drive more safely. Because of this, they pay less money on their car insurance premiums. If you own your own home, be sure to let your car insurance company know.

14. Live in a safe neighborhood. If you live in an area with low car insurance claims, low auto theft and low crime, you will save money on your car insurance.

15. Build up your credit score. In most states, car insurance companies use consumer credit data to help determine auto insurance pricing for consumers. If you have a good or excellent credit score, you will pay less for car insurance than someone with a poor credit score. Need help building up a credit score? Pay your past-due accounts, pay down debt and avoid taking on new debt. All these actions will improve your credit score.

16. Keep mileage low. Driving fewer miles will help to lower your car insurance premium—drive less and pay less on your auto insurance premium. Being a low-mileage driver is an easy way to save money on car insurance. Try it and you'll see.

17. The type of car you drive. Auto insurance premiums are based on your car's price, the cost to repair it, its overall safety record and the likelihood that it will get stolen. Choosing an affordable car with a good safety record will get you a lower price on your car insurance.

18. Make wise coverage choices. It makes sense that your car-insurance coverage choices will affect the price of your car insurance. You want to be safe and have enough protection on your car, getting the minimum requirements demanded by your state, but you also want to add more coverage for the safety and protection of your family.

Average Car Insurance Rates by State

There's little you can do if the auto rates are more expensive where you live, but you can still pay lower-than-average rates by using comparison sites in your search for affordable auto insurance. Accurate at the time this article was published, the following car insurance rates are an average for each state:

Alabama $118.81   Montana $114.78
Alaska $136.17   Nebraska $99.47
Arizona $117.68   Nevada $155.19
Arkansas $120.43   New Hampshire $101.69
California $164.11   New Jersey $175.19
Colorado $148.16   New Mexico $126.99
Connecticut $144.32   New York $216.73
Delaware $140.50   North Carolina $84.52
District of Columbia $183.28   North Dakota $106.59
Florida $226.28   Ohio $91.54
Georgia $147.02   Oklahoma $146.91
Hawaii $117.83   Oregon $111.58
Idaho $76.58   Pennsylvania $123.38
Illinois $108.01   Rhode Island $169.33
Indiana $91.20   South Carolina $114.82
Iowa $89.07   South Dakota $117.96
Kansas $122.73   Tennessee $100.38
Kentucky $134.68   Texas $145.39
Louisiana $225.65   Utah $111.17
Maine $73.25   Vermont $92.24
Maryland $167.12   Virginia $97.35
Massachusetts $121.10   Washington $103.92
Michigan $176.25   West Virginia $139.09
Minnesota $120.24   Wisconsin $92.79
Mississippi $116.94   Wyoming $133.92
Missouri $118.12      

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Average Car Insurance Rates by State for Minimum Coverage

If you want to compare car insurance quotes specifically or just make a car insurance comparison generally, SmartFinancial and other sites offer quite a range of rates for different states. While most of these sites can always get drivers full coverage, even if they have average credit or poor credit, the list below only presents the average monthly rate for the bare minimum coverage for each state:

Arizona $65.97   Nevada $91.64
California $83.15   New Hampshire $52.90
Colorado $65.83   New Jersey $121.17
Connecticut $93.61   New Mexico $68.03
Delaware $79.54   New York $125.79
District of Columbia $101.20   North Carolina $46.30
Florida $134.20   North Dakota $41.67
Georgia $91.08   Ohio $46.69
Hawaii $56.07   Oklahoma $72.48
Idaho $39.52   Oregon $67.90
Illinois $60.87   Pennsylvania $55.20
Indiana $43.81   Rhode Island $107.73
Iowa $36.85   South Carolina $64.72
Kansas $49.38   South Dakota $41.33
Kentucky $65.70   Tennessee $62.99
Louisiana $133.93   Texas $80.55
Maine $38.81   Utah $66.07
Maryland $102.88   Vermont $42.62
Michigan $93.53   Virginia $54.65
Minnesota $56.48   Washington $63.86
Mississippi $67.18   West Virginia $66.96
Missouri $56.72   Wisconsin $43.46
Montana $47.29   Wyoming $41.07
Nebraska $38.52      

What Coverage Options Do I Have for Car Insurance?

Liability coverage is required in every state, and some states require personal injury protection (PIP). Liability coverage only covers the other parties involved in an accident if it was your fault. Full coverage includes comprehensive and collision insurance and possibly PIP and UM/UMPD, which would cover you, your vehicle and any passengers when you have an accident, regardless of fault.

If you are leasing or financing a vehicle, you will probably be required to carry full coverage, but you may want to consider so-called gap coverage, which helps to cover your debt in case you owe more than what your car is worth. Some people even carry umbrella insurance, which offers protection against financial setbacks. It's important to have adequate insurance. Since rates fluctuate daily, you should compare car insurance quotes at the same time. If you're interested in getting free insurance quotes from SmartFinancial, enter your zip code below. If you're unsure of which types of coverage you need, one of our licensed agents can guide you.

Which Insurance Companies Are the Best?

Geico is dedicated solely to auto insurance. Launched in 1936, the company offers an excellent experience on all its online platforms as well as cool apps, such as car-maintenance alerts and a gas-station locator. A direct-to-consumer website, Geico may be short on agents compared to other providers.

The third-largest auto insurance company in the U.S., Allstate offers insurance in all 50 states. With more than 19,000 independent contractor agents working for the firm, it's easy for you to find an agent in your area. Allstate offers a dozen discounts for saving on auto insurance, so there are plenty of ways to lower your car insurance premium.

Farmers Insurance began selling insurance a year before the Great Depression and survived to become a household name. When an earthquake hit Los Angeles, Farmers paid out claims for damaged cars and became the first insurance company to offer comprehensive insurance. Farmers has financial strength, great employee education and customer service. Farmers offers 11 discounts on its auto insurance premiums.

Founded in 1922. State Farm has 48,000 insurance agents and 83 million policies. Begun as a single-line auto insurance provider, State Farm now offers about 100 insurance products in five lines of insurance. State Farm is the largest auto insurance provider in the country and offers 10 different types of discounts for its auto insurance customers.

Travelers Insurance has been around for more than 160 years. The company protects homes, cars, valuables and businesses. Choosing Travelers as an insurance company has a lot of advantages. For example, unlike other carriers that offer new-car replacement for only the first two or three years, Travelers covers the first five years. Travelers offers accident forgiveness and ride-sharing insurance as well as discounts on hybrids and electric vehicles.

One of the top insurance providers, Nationwide began in 1926 with the goal of selling auto insurance at low rates to farmers in Ohio. Today, it is a Fortune 100 company with a full range of insurance and financial services all across the country. With Nationwide, you'll get 20 percent off when you bundle home, auto, life and other policies. The company rewards customers with a safe driving history. For example, its vanishing deductible program decreases your deductible each year that you have been accident-free.

Providing coverage to customers across the country for more than 90 years, American Family Insurance has a number of advantages, such as 24/7 claim support. The firm's MyAmFam app makes it easy to manage your account, and the Teen Safe Driver program uses technology to monitor distracted driving and may allow a teen to earn up to 10 percent off their car insurance. In addition, American Family offers KnowYourDriver technology, which analyzes your driving habits, allowing you to earn a discount of up to 20 percent.

Global insurer Liberty Mutual is the fourth-largest property and casualty insurer in the U.S. and ranks at No. 68 on the Fortune 100 list of largest U.S. corporations. For car insurance customers, Liberty Mutual has many ways to save, including telematics devices that track driving behaviors; using this feature, safe drivers can save up to 30 percent. Further, the firm offers accident forgiveness as well as its Liberty Mutual Deductible Fund, which can reduce or and eliminate your deductible. A lifetime auto-repair guarantee at 2,000 guaranteed repair network facilities is also available.

USAA is an organization founded by military members for military members and their families. Founded in the 1920s, today USAA is one of the largest insurance companies and financial services providers, serving millions of military members. There are 11 different types of discounts to lower car insurance premiums with USAA, which has an app for managing account information and claims. USAA also offers financial literacy and retirement-planning courses to its members.

Established in 1928, Concord Groupis headquartered in Concord, New Hampshire. The insurance firm works exclusively through independent agents and offers 24-hour road service and claims for glass.

Based in Piqua, Ohio, Buckeye Insurance Groupwrites insurance in Ohio, Indiana and Kansas. Working exclusively with independent agents, it has been in the insurance business for more than 140 years.

Headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, Countryway Insuranceprovides insurance to farms and rural communities in Virginia, Kentucky and eight northeastern states. A network of independent insurance agencies sells Countryway car insurance.

Pekin Insurance was started in 1921 by a group of Central Illinois farmers who wanted to create affordable and reliable auto insurance coverage. Headquartered in Pekin, Ill., it offers a number of discounts on its auto policies.

How to Choose Which Insurance Company Is Best?

One insurance company may be perfect for one driver and terrible for another. A homeowners policy that's rejected by one customer might be welcomed by someone else. Insurance comparison sites allow shoppers to explore many options in a short time frame. Costa Mesa, Calif.-based SmartFinancial finds the best, lowest-cost insurance for its customers, whether they want auto, home, fire, business or life coverage. What's more, SmartFinancial works with many types of insurers. For example, while the company knows specialty insurers that take on high-risk drivers, it would never pair a driver with a clean record with such a company because that driver would end up paying hundreds of dollars more per year for no good reason.

Since every insurance company has different criteria for risk and offers different policies and discounts, it pays to comparison shop before purchasing any protection. When comparing auto or homeowners insurance rates, SmartFinancial's agents are here to help and can be reached right now at 854-214-229. With years of field experience and a deep knowledge of the insurance industry and how it is changing, our agents will point you to the insurance company and policy that is just right for you and your budget.

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