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Shopping for car insurance has never been quicker or easier. Comparison-shopping via the Internet gives consumers the opportunity to get up-to-date information and instant quotes. Once a car insurance company has been selected, an application can be completed, payment made and coverage arranged within minutes!
Find the best car insurance companies and get the fastest service by putting your ZIP in the FREE box on this page!
Ads for instant car insurance quotes pop up at every click of the mouse on the World Wide Web. Most insurance companies sponsor their own interactive websites, designed for shoppers as well as to provide continuing customer service for existing customers.
Competition is the Key
Online competition over the last few years is responsible in large measure for bringing down car insurance prices nationwide. Since 2005, the average cost of coverage in the United States dropped from $839 per year to $785 per year, a reduction of slightly more than 5%.
Car insurance providers are in the process of pouring some $4 billion dollars into marketing and advertising their products in 2012. This represents a sharp increase, 16%, over 2011, which in turn saw spending jump 11% over the previous year 2010.
Many of the marketing campaigns are designed to entice existing auto insurance customers to switch carriers. The main motivation to do so remains competitive pricing. Save big bucks on your annual car insurance premiums when you switch to insert insurance company name here!
According to an inaugural online shopping study completed this year by J.D. Power and Associates, 73% of insurance shoppers currently begin the selection process online.
In this first of its kind survey, J.D. Power gathered information from 1,650 insurance shoppers around the country in March 2012. The four companies whose websites were rated the best were Allstate, Esurance, GEICO, and Travelers.
The survey asked shoppers to evaluate their website experiences in five main areas. The first and most important factor considered was the ease of navigation of the website. Next, consumers were asked to give their opinions on the website’s appearance and how clearly information was presented on the site.
Lastly, shoppers rated the variety of services that were available on each website they visited, as well as the speed with which they were able to complete their online tasks.
Other companies whose websites were cited for above average customer experiences included 21st Century, Amica Mutual, American Family, Farmers Insurance, Nationwide Insurance, Liberty Mutual, State Farm, Progressive, and The Hartford.
The Hartford was notable for winning the coveted J.D. Power five-circle customer satisfaction award for 2012, with an overall score of 857 points out of a possible 1,000. Several companies scored in excess of 900 points just for their websites, indicating that customers were delighted with the sites.
In this category, 63% of respondents said they would likely buy insurance from a carrier whose website ranked well. On the other hand, only 14% of shoppers said they would buy car insurance from a company whose website was found to be disappointing. These were sites with satisfaction scores of less than 550 points.
In addition, half of the shoppers who were delighted with a website indicated that they would definitely recommend the insurance company to others. Of those who were displeased by a particular site, only 2% indicated they would recommend the site to family or friends.
Younger Buyers Shop Online
The two biggest movers in recent years, national firms GEICO and Progressive, owe their tremendous growth and market position to their aggressive direct marketing campaigns. More than half of drivers born between 1977 and 1992 buy their insurance coverage directly from a carrier either by phone or online.
Only 40% of older baby boomer drivers buy directly from an insurer. As the youngest Americans come of age and start driving, this trend is expected to continue.
Eventually more consumers will turn to the Internet to meet their car insurance needs.
Without local offices or agents, GEICO has enjoyed explosive growth, having added 7 million new policyholders in the last 15 years. GEICO’s share of the car insurance market has grown to 7.8%. This has helped them become one of the top three insurers in the country.
Comparison Sites Abound
First come the lists of insurance company websites. Any Internet search engine can quickly guide you to the web address of the car insurance company of your choice. Then you will find comparison and insurance quotation websites by the dozen, each promoting the products of a number of individual insurance companies.
To make the matter even more complicated you can readily find top sites, websites that rank the most and least popular of the available comparison-shopping sites for car insurance. If you read the introduction to most any one of these sights, each will claim it is the absolute best!
Before using a particular comparison website to make an online insurance purchase, insurance shoppers should make sure that a website has a strong selection of well-known provider companies to choose from.
About a third of shoppers are comfortable purchasing their coverage online. Most consumers however, would prefer to buy directly from a named insurance carrier rather than an unknown third party agent.
One web-based source of Internet company listings is the Open Directory Project, a large, comprehensive directory of many different kinds of businesses operating in the United States, including car insurers. They boast that its listings are edited by human beings rather than generated by a computer program.
Customer Satisfaction is Paramount
While most auto insurance customers’ principal concern is the cost of a policy, price is only a part a successful insurance company relationship.
Once the money is paid and the policy takes effect service after the sale, customer service becomes the biggest factor in rating an insurance carrier.
The way an insurance company deals with its customers, whether in-person, on the phone or via the Internet will eventually determine the company’s success and potential for growth and prosperity.
In May 2012, Forbes Magazine published the results of the annual J.D. Power and Associates auto insurance customer satisfaction survey. As mentioned above, the Hartford won top honors, scoring perfect ratings in three of the five categories surveyed.
According to the customers surveyed, among all insurance carriers, the Hartford consistently delivers a more satisfying customer experience. Other companies that enjoyed high overall rankings included, American Family, Liberty Mutual, Auto Club Group, Amica Mutual, Nationwide Insurance, State Farm, MetLife, and Erie Insurance. All of these companies had four circle scores.
In specific categories, American Family earned high marks for its local agents. Progressive, Nationwide, and Esurance were praised for their websites and online shopping capabilities. Number one, the Hartford, was first in its pricing, policy offerings, and call center representation.
Customers were asked to rate auto insurance companies based on the:
- Policy and coverage offerings
- Price of their insurance policies and riders
- Availability and service record of the company’s local agents and office staff
- Company’s call center staff
- Insurance company’s website
Car Insurance Customers More Satisfied
According to Forbes Magazine, there has been a gradual and steady increase in customer satisfaction over the past several years. In fact, customer satisfaction with auto insurance providers reached an all time high in 2012.
When considering product offerings, price, customer service, billing, and claims, customer satisfaction averaged 804 out of 1,000 points, an increase of 14 points over the 2011 survey. Customers were more satisfied with product offerings, which increased by 30 points. Customer service interactions saw a gain of 19 points. The price category however, was virtually unchanged.
The Best of the Rest
Two dozen car insurance companies were rated and ranked in the 2012 J.D. Power survey. The top scorers were mentioned above. The lower-ranked auto providers included:
- #11 GEICO
- #12 Ameriprise
- #13 Auto Club Group of Southern California
- #14 Safeco
- #15 21st Century
- #16 Farmers
- #17 Allied
- #18 Esurance
- #19 Travelers
- #20 Allstate
- #21 AAA NCNU Insurance Exchange
- #22 Progressive
- #23 GMAC
- #24 Mercury
Insurance Companies Ranked by Region
Yahoo news published the Power customer satisfaction survey results for seven different regions in the United States, giving consumers a heads up as to who the top car insurance contenders are in their states and local markets.
One conclusion of this year’s surveys is that the most satisfied insurance customers are generally happy enough to stay put with their present providers.
In each region, companies are shown in order of points accumulated and given an overall rating, expressed in the number of Power circles earned. An award of five circles places the insurance provider mentioned, among the best. An award of four circles indicates a company is better than most, three circles is average, two or one would be below average or everyone else.
Everywhere you look online you will find great car insurance values, so shop today by putting your ZIP in the FREE box!