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There really is only one best place to shop for car insurance in the 21st century and that is on the Internet. Online shopping has increased exponentially since the year 2000, and e-commerce promises to show even greater gains in the decades to come.
Comparison-shopping has never been easier than when shopping online, so start right now by putting your ZIP in the FREE tool on this page!
According to published research reports by Statista a Dow Jones partner, e-commerce in the United States grew to $256 billion in 2011. At the beginning of the decade, total sales in the U.S. via the World Wide Web were only $72 billion. In ten years’ time, Internet sales have increased by 356%!
E-commerce: Growing by Leaps and Bounds
As a percentage of total retail and service sector sales, e-commerce accounted for 5.1% of all sales activity in the second quarter of 2012. This total, $54.8 billion, was an increase of 3.3% over the previous quarter. E-commerce sales increased even though the total of retail and service sector sales, $1,076.9 billion, represented a slight drop from the fourth quarter of 2012 (-.4%). This data is provided by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Internet Retailer, estimates that by the year 2016, Internet shoppers in the U.S. will spend as much as $327 billion, a 45% increase over 2011’s total. By 2016, e-commerce will account for as much as 9% of total retail sales in the U.S.!
Over the next five years, e-commerce is expected to grow at an annual rate of 10.1%. It should be noted that these figures do not take into account auto sales, or the sale of gasoline, groceries, or restaurant meals.
Websites are of Vital Importance
The Internet Retailer report cited above attributes a large portion of e-commerce growth to online service providers improving their websites as well as their online services. Businesses have far more display tools at their disposal, which allow for more attractive and eye-catching websites.
For practical purposes, Internet design tools allow for a greater range of customer service options and payment methods.
More and more shoppers are finding their merchandise and services readily available online. Experts predict that 192 million consumers in the U.S. will shop via the Internet by the year 2016, 15% more than are expected to access Internet sites in 2012.
Each shopper is also expected to spend more on average in 2016 than his 2012 counterpart. In 2016, consumers are expected to spend $1,738 on average, a 44% increase from 2012’s $1,207 average. The steady growth in the number of web shoppers also is helping to boost e-commerce sales.
Another reason for the surge in Internet shopping is that smart vendors are packing their websites with “online only” deals, further encouraging an already eager public to spend more dollars while shopping online. By the end of 2011, 70% of consumers said they preferred to shop online because they were offered better deals than they could get by visiting brick and mortar stores and offices.
Other reasons for the tremendous and rapid growth of e-commerce include more online customer loyalty programs, and very aggressive online marketing campaigns. Experts also cite the increased use of smart phones, iPads, tablets, and other personal computing devices. These portable devices encourage consumers to spend more time online and make shopping all that much easier!
Insurance Websites Rated
In 2012, market research giant J.D. Power and Associates conducted their first ever auto insurance website evaluation in conjunction with the company’s famous customer satisfaction surveys which have been conducted since 2000.
According the J.D. Power, the best performing auto insurance websites belong to Allstate, GEICO, Travelers, and Esurance. One of the more notable statistics revealed by the survey is that 55% of online auto insurance shoppers are less likely to buy a policy from a company whose website was disappointing.
According to the survey, 34% of insurance shoppers actually prefer to buy their coverage online. Consumers consistently reported that the experience they have on an insurer’s website would impact whether they will shop or recommend that insurance company.
Released in May of 2012, the J.D. Power inaugural insurance website evaluation review measured five important factors that they determined contribute most to a shopper’s satisfaction or dissatisfaction with an insurance provider’s site.
Those factors are the ease of navigation, overall appearance, the clarity of information found on the website, the speed and last but not least, the variety of services available to website shoppers and existing clients of the site.
Shoppers, who were delighted with a particular insurer’s website, giving satisfaction scores of 90% or better, were 63% more likely to buy a policy from that insurer after visiting the site. This compares with just 14% of shoppers who reported their disappointment with a website. These insurance shoppers gave scores of 55% or less. Half of the delighted shoppers said they’d recommend the site to family and friends, while only 2% of the disappointed group indicated the same.
The J.D. Power study also concluded that almost three quarters of those shopping for an auto policy would visit at least one insurance company website. This is often the first contact a shopper will have with any particular insurer, emphasizing just how important a website can be.
As the old saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
The senior director of insurance practice at J.D. Power, Jeremy Bowler, says that insurance companies have a wonderful opportunity to gain new customers and customer referrals by providing websites that are professional and engaging as well as easy to use and informative.
Insurance Quotes: Simple and Fast
An important factor in the success of any car insurance website is the ability for consumers to get fast and accurate rate quotes. J.D. Power found that while many companies are able to successfully streamline the quotation process, others fail to provide a positive shopping experience. Only 72% of online shoppers who requested a rate quote actually received one immediately. An additional 18% had to wait somewhat longer, and 10% didn’t get a quote at all.
In 2011, the insurance industry as a whole spent more than $5 billion on advertising. Many of these ad dollars were spent in vain, for as many as 30% of prospective customers leave insurance sites without a rate quote. An additional 15% of consumers take a quote and then run to another insurer to comparison shop. Fast and reliable online rate quotes are a modern key for winning new business.
In this regard, consumers who were satisfied with their insurance company rate quote experiences scored those companies 24.5% higher on the survey than shoppers who had to wait for a quote. Pre-filled forms are a helpful tool that many insurance providers may use to speed along the online quotation process. Accurate pre-filled information appealed to 65% of insurance shoppers. Errors however dropped satisfaction scores by an average of 12%.
Another important consideration for online shoppers is the ease of finding accurate contact information for the insurance companies they are considering. This includes contact information for local offices and agents where available.
The 2012 Website Evaluation Study is based on the responses of 1650 automobile insurance shoppers. Other insurance companies whose websites were evaluated included:
- American Family
- 21st Century, Farmers
- Amica Mutual
- Liberty Mutual
- The Hartford
- State Farm
Overall Customer Satisfaction
Forbes Magazine recently published the results of the 2012 J.D. Power auto insurance customer satisfaction survey. At the top of the list for 2012 was The Hartford, which was awarded the J.D. Power Five Circle award. The Hartford topped the list of 24 companies in almost all five of the categories rated.
Often times, the best places to shop for car insurance are the place, or companies that come highly recommended by family or friends. A listing in Forbes Magazine as a top auto insurance provider can certainly help. The complete listing of companies and individual point scores can be found by visiting another J.D. Power site.
Following The Hartford on the list of most satisfactory auto insurers is Liberty Mutual. In third place were American Family, then the Auto Club Group, Nationwide, Amica Mutual, State Farm, Erie Insurance, MetLife, and Auto-Owners Insurance in tenth place.
The second tier of insurance companies included GEICO in eleventh place, followed by Ameriprise, Auto Club Group of Southern California, Safeco, 21st Century, Farmers, Allied, Esurance, Travelers, and Allstate.
At the bottom end of the customer satisfaction survey were AAA NCNU Insurance Exchange, Progressive, GMAC, and Mercury Insurance Company.
While price is certainly a consideration in selecting an insurance provider, customer service is the most important aspect for most consumers, whether the service is being provided in person, or online. Companies in the Power survey were rated on price, local agents and call center representatives, policy offerings and website.
While there are many definitions for the word “best,” informed consumers explore a number of companies and options, comparison-shopping in order to find the car insurance company that is best for them. With speed and convenience, the Internet makes a search for the best car insurance companies all the more productive.
Put your ZIP in the FREE box on this page and begin your search for the best car insurance companies!