Pros and Cons of Online Insurance Platforms
Shopping for auto insurance coverage was once a confusing, complicated process. In the past, people had to carry out their own research to find the most affordable rates based on their driver's profile.
Consumers had to look up an insurer's contact information and call each one individually to ask for a quote. Most didn't know if insurers provided them the best rates based on their driving profile and budget.
Thanks to the digital era, shopping for car insurance coverage has become simpler. You can enter a few personal details and get car insurance quotes from multiple carriers in your local area.
In this article, you'll learn the pros and cons of using a car insurance comparison service. An online insurance comparison service, like SmartFinancial, can save you up to 40 percent on your car insurance rates.
How Do I Purchase An Auto Insurance Policy?
Are you in the market for a new auto insurance policy but don't know where to start? Well, there are three ways that you can buy a policy in the insurance marketplace.
You can buy a policy from a captive agent, who typically represents a single carrier. Auto insurance companies like Allstate, Farmers, and State Farm use these representatives to sell their policies.
You can also purchase an auto policy through an independent agent. These individuals sell insurance products from multiple carriers. Independent agents not only sell auto insurance; they may also sell other policies, such as homeowners, renters and life insurance. These professionals are not tied to a single insurance company.
A third way is to purchase it online (direct) from an auto insurance company. Many large carriers allow customers to buy directly from them because consumers are already aware of their auto insurance options and products.
Using an online comparison service, like SmartFinancial, is one of the easiest ways to buy an auto policy directly from insurance companies. It can provide you with auto insurance quotes from multiple insurers within minutes. Individuals can also enjoy enormous savings on their premiums.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Using a Captive Agent?
A captive agent is loyal to a carrier and only sells products from a single company. Major insurance companies are more likely to sell their products through these professionals. They are usually larger insurers like Allstate, State Farm, and Farmers.
The upside is that these representatives have a deep knowledge of the coverage they sell to customers. When you purchase car insurance coverage from a captive agent, they can also tell you which car insurance products will best suit your needs.
Working with a captive agent has several drawbacks. You won't know whether the packages that these professionals present are the best coverage and most affordable car insurance rates.
Additionally, you won't know how their car insurance quotes compare against other insurance companies. You'll have to spend time physically gathering car insurance quotes from different insurance agents to learn if you're getting the best premium for your driver profile.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Using an Independent Agent?
An independent agent knows about a variety of insurance products from different companies. These professionals can provide you with insurance rates from multiple carriers. As a result, you can compare car insurance quotes from a variety of companies. You can pick the best auto insurance quote and lowest premium for you.
Another advantage that independent agents have is that they don't receive incentives for steering customers to a specific carrier. So, they'll have your best interests in mind when recommending a policy. They can also provide car insurance quotes that fit your budget.
Unfortunately, most independent professionals charge for their services. These professionals usually work with nonstandard and smaller insurance agencies that have smaller advertising budgets. They also add additional fees for their services to your premiums.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Buying a Car Insurance Policy Online?
A third option that consumers have is to purchase their insurance policies directly from the insurance company. Consumers can do this using an insurance comparison search engine.
Unlike independent agents, these tools are free of charge. There are no hidden fees from the insurance agent added on to your policy. Here are several advantages customers have when they buy insurance online.
You can buy an auto insurance policy at your convenience
Americans have hectic schedules. People have to work at their jobs, exercising or preparing dinner for their kids. Shopping for insurance online is one of the most convenient ways to shop for a policy. You can start searching for new coverage from the comfort of your family room while enjoying a cup of coffee.
It takes less than ten minutes to fill out a quote
Online insurance comparison services have streamlined the insurance comparison process. You only need to answer a few quick questions, and you'll get quotes from local insurance companies within your zip code.
Get instant access to your auto insurance documents
Another convenience of online car insurance shopping is getting instant access to your paperwork. After you purchase your coverage, you'll be able to print your insurance paperwork. Although most carriers don't offer an ID at the time of purchase, you can print out your other insurance documents.
You can choose to skip the middleman
Buying a policy online can allow you to bypass a car insurance agent to get a quote. Purchasing insurance directly can save you money since you won't have to pay a fee to this professional.
It's easier to compare car insurance coverage
Online comparison services give multiple quotes from car insurance companies within your zip code. You can compare different policies to learn which insurer provides the best one at the most affordable price for you.
A service, like SmartFinancial's, allows you to compare car insurance quotes from more than 200 carriers. You may receive an average of 40 percent savings on your auto insurance premium.
You'll have reduced car insurance forms and paperwork when filing online
Most people don't want to fill out long forms or provide numerous documents to buy insurance offline. When you switch to purchase car insurance online, you don't need to fill out forms and submit forms to a representative.
You can get a cheaper policy by buying it using an online comparison service
Online car insurance companies have lower operational costs compared to traditional carriers. Since digital insurance companies don't sell products at physical locations, they don't have the same workforce requirements.
Since they have a smaller staff, the company has lower operational costs. Insurers pass these savings onto customers by giving a more affordable auto insurance quote or premium rate while providing the same coverage.
Disadvantages of Using an Insurance Comparison Service
Buying insurance online has many advantages. Here are some disadvantages you should know before turning to an insurance comparison service to buy your new car insurance policy.
You should have experience using a computer. To use an online insurance policy, you should know how to use a computer, mobile device and the internet.
If you're not comfortable using a computer, you should consider signing up for a policy with a qualified insurance representative by calling 855-214-2291.
You can't ask help an agent for assistance when filing a claim
When you purchase a policy through an agent, this professional usually handles the claims process after you have an accident. However, if you file a claim online after an accident you can't ask a local agent to assist you during the claims process.
You can usually solve this issue by calling the company's customer service number for assistance. If the insurer doesn't have a customer service phone number, you can also search for answers online at it business website.
You may not be able to bundle coverage through some online insurers
Another drawback is that some online insurance companies don't sell auto insurance coverages online like homeowners' or renters' insurance. As a result, you may not be able to bundle your coverage at a discounted rate. Let SmartFinancial find you any kind of insurance product you need.
Tips to Buy Auto Insurance Online
Online insurance comparison services have simplified the process to buy coverage. These digital tools have streamlined the process so you can answer questions quickly and get an insurance quote within 10 minutes or less. Here are some tips for shopping for insurance online.
1. Gather Your Personal Information to Complete Your Driver Profile
When searching for your new auto insurance policy, it always pays to be prepared. Before you begin, it helps to get a few things before you get your free car insurance quote. First, grab your laptop, a delicious snack and your favorite drink. Now, sit on a comfy seat and settle in.
Additionally, make sure you have some basic information about your household. This step will streamline the search process so you can complete it in an easy and organized way. It will also ensure that the insurance quote you receive is accurate.
Have the Following Documents Handy
Obtain personal information from all the drivers in your household. Write the full names, zip code, birth dates and driver's license number of every driver in your household.
Jot down the driving history for all eligible drivers in your home. According to the Insurance Information Institute, carriers use your driving history as one factor to calculate auto insurance rates. When writing this history, ask about any tickets, accidents or other traffic infractions they may have.
Get information about every vehicle in your household. It should include the year, make, model and vehicle identification number (VIN) of every vehicle you own and the ones you plan to purchase.
Include your current or previous auto insurance information. You should list coverage for all of your household drivers. It should be available on your insurance declaration page. It will help you understand what you should change or keep if you decide to switch insurers in the future.
The date you want your insurance coverage to begin. Do you have a previous policy that is set to expire? Or have you purchased a new vehicle that needs coverage? Decide when you want your coverage to kick in, so you'll have insurance when you're ready to drive.
Ask for the Social Security numbers of all drivers in your home.
When shopping, don't omit any information. After you gather your information, you're ready to start shopping for your new policy online.
2. Determine the Coverage Amounts that are Appropriate for Your Needs
After you complete your driver's profile, you'll need to know the coverage options that best suits your needs.
It includes several factors, such as the current value of your car and how much coverage you can afford. You'll also need to calculate how much out-of-pocket expenses (a deductible) you can pay after an accident.
First-time motorist searching for coverage - Some first-time drivers believe minimum insurance is the best choice because these policies are cheaper. Unfortunately, minimum insurance requirements may seem cheap, but it may not provide enough coverage if you're at fault for a serious accident.
Drivers switching insurance companies - Are you switching insurance companies? Get your declaration papers from your previous insurance company. Identify which coverage you enjoyed from your insurer. For instance, did you like your roadside assistance coverage? Were you satisfied with your policy limits? If so, find out if your new insurance carrier will offer these same coverages.
You can find a list of your existing auto insurance coverage on your declaration page that your insurance company provided. It lists your coverage limits, costs and terms. You can use this as a reference source when searching for new policies online.
Car Insurance Requirements
Learn about your state's minimum car insurance requirements – After gathering your information, you should learn your state's minimum coverage amounts.
It is the lowest amount of insurance you'll need to drive in your area. Although these offer the cheapest options for drivers, they may not provide adequate coverage if you are at fault in a significant accident. We've included a cheat sheet of state minimum insurance coverages to help you.
Minimum Coverage By State
|State||Insurance Required||Minimum Liability Limits|
|AL||BI & PD Liab||25/50/25|
|AK||BI & PD Liab||50/100/25|
|AZ||BI & PD Liab||15/30/10|
|AR||BI & PD Liab, PIP||25/50/25|
|CA||BI & PD Liab||15/30/5|
|CO||BI & PD Liab||25/50/15|
|CT||BI & PD Liab, UM, UIM||25/50/20|
|DE||BI & PD Liab, PIP||25/50/10|
|DC||BI & PD Liab, UM||25/50/10|
|FL||PD Liab, PIP||10/20/10|
|GA||BI & PD Liab||25/50/25|
|HI||BI & PD Liab, PIP||20/40/10|
|ID||BI & PD Liab||25/50/15|
|IL||BI & PD Liab, UM, UIM||25/50/20|
|IN||BI & PD Liab||25/50/25|
|IA||BI & PD Liab||20/40/15|
|KS||BI & PD Liab, PIP||25/50/25|
|KY||BI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM||25/50/25|
|LA||BI & PD Liab||15/30/25|
|ME||BI & PD Liab, UM, UIM, Medpay||50/100/25|
|MD||BI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM||30/60/15|
|MA||BI & PD Liab, PIP||20/40/5|
|MI||BI & PD Liab, PIP||20/40/10|
|MN||BI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM||30/60/10|
|MS||BI & PD Liab||25/50/25|
|MO||BI & PD Liab, UM||25/50/25|
|MT||BI & PD Liab||25/50/20|
|NE||BI & PD Liab, UM, UIM||25/50/25|
|NV||BI & PD Liab||25/50/20|
|NJ||BI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM||15/30/5|
|NM||BI & PD Liab||25/50/10|
|NY||BI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM||25/50/10|
|NC||BI & PD Liab, UM, UIM||30/60/25|
|ND||BI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM||25/50/25|
|OH||BI & PD Liab||25/50/25|
|OK||BI & PD Liab||25/50/25|
|OR||BI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM||25/50/20|
|PA||BI & PD Liab, PIP||15/30/5|
|RI||BI & PD Liab||25/50/25|
|SC||BI & PD Liab, UM, UIM||25/50/25|
|SD||BI & PD Liab, UM, UIM||25/50/25|
|TN||BI & PD Liab||25/50/15|
|TX||BI & PD Liab, PIP||30/60/25|
|UT||BI & PD Liab, PIP||25/65/15|
|VT||BI & PD Liab, UM, UIM||25/50/10|
|VA||BI & PD Liab, UM, UIM||25/50/20|
|WA||BI & PD Liab||25/50/10|
|WV||BI & PD Liab, UM, UIM||25/50/25|
|WI||BI & PD Liab, UM, Medpay||25/50/10|
|WY||BI & PD Liab||25/50/20|
3. Research and Compare Each Insurance Company
After you submit your information, SmartFinancial's online comparison service will give you car insurance quotes based on your driver's profile. You can follow the onscreen prompts to get car insurance quote from different companies. You'll receive a ballpark figure about how much coverage will cost.
During the process, compare car insurance coverage options and get a car insurance quotes from at least three carriers. It will also give you an idea of how their policies stack up against other competitors.
Conduct a little research about each business online to learn which carrier provides the best customer service and coverage options. Read reviews from current customers to find out how each car insurance company handles claims.
You can also check the National Association of Insurance Commissioners' website. The organization has collected complaint data about each auto insurance company. Others, like J.D. Power, also show who ranks best as far as customer service.
Next, check for any driver discounts that each business offers. They can help you save money on your premiums.
Many insurers offer cost-cutting savings for motorists that take defensive driving courses or have zero accidents on their record. There are also safe driving discounts available.
Others provide car insurance discounts for individuals that belong to different affiliations like teen drivers, student motorists, the military, AARP, AAA, and others. You can also receive car insurance discounts for safety devices available on your vehicle.
Using auto insurance comparison tools, like SmartFinancial, can help you find better coverage options at a more affordable price. It's quick and easy to get auto insurance quotes from multiple insurance companies. Just enter your zip code below, and we'll provide you with auto insurance quotes from local carriers within your state.
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