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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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Taking the time to find cheap car insurance quotes reveals a wide variety of services. While receiving instant quotes may seem like a positive, the personal information needed to generate these rates is highly sensitive. Get your FREE car insurance quote by putting in your ZIP code!
A wise consumer searching for the best auto insurance at the lowest price doesn’t hand out her personal information to just any company. Following a methodical research process helps protect consumer while she searches for the best deal possible.
Insurance Comparison Websites
Comparison websites for auto insurance allow users to pool information from multiple insurance providers. Using these types of websites carries several advantages and disadvantages for a consumer.
- Making a decision on which insurance provider to purchase a policy from is easier with a comparison website. A consumer can view several quotes in real time from insurance companies.
- Viewing coverages side by side can show which insurance company offers the best deal for a consumer’s particular coverage needs
- A comparison website is only able to show quotes from companies participating in the website’s program. This means the site can only show the lowest rates from participating companies — not the lowest quote possible.
- Checking multiple comparison websites may be necessary before a consumer has a full array of quotes from all insurance companies writing policies in her state.
Insurance Company Websites
Each insurance company licensed to write policies maintains a website to allow consumers to shop for coverage online.
A specific insurance company’s website can generate more detailed information for a consumer than using a comparison website. An insurance company may offer discounts on annual premiums, if a consumer chooses to purchase a policy online.
Purchasing an insurance policy through a third-party website may negate those discounts. Proprietary website tools can assist a consumer in making tiny adjustments to coverage details. Manipulating coverage options in this way may not be possible with a comparison website.
Obtaining a rate quote from only one insurance company doesn’t give a consumer a full array of insurance options in his area. Visiting the websites of multiple insurance companies may be necessary.
Research Third-Party Websites
Before a consumer gives her personal information to a third-party insurance website, checking out the website’s credentials is essential. Failing to do so could result in a consumer giving away information to a fake site used by identity thieves.
- Examine the website’s pages detailing the company’s history and affiliations. Logos from the Better Business Bureau and TRUSTe.org signal a company that does legitimate business. A consumer can also review consumer statements about the insurer by visiting the Better Business Bureau’s own website.
- A VeriSign logo on the company’s website indicates the company has security measures in place to protect consumer information. A company without some type of software security has a higher risk of information theft.
- State government websites — including the department of transportation — usually display records of insurance companies and third-party affiliates in good standing. These companies have the necessary certifications to advertise and create insurance policies in a given state.
- If a consumer doesn’t feel confident about a website’s security, move on to another website.
Be a Selective Shopper
Shopping for an auto insurance policy doesn’t mean a consumer has to get a rate quote from every insurer in the state. Doing so could actually harm the consumer’s credit over time. Each insurance company investigating a consumer’s driving record also checks credit history and credit rating.
While state laws prevent credit rating from being the sole deciding factor in coverage decisions, credit does play into premium determinations. A high number of inquiries into a consumer’s credit information over a short period of time can lower the consumer’s credit score.
A lower credit rating can make it more difficult to secure personal loans and new lines of credit. Damaged credit can also contribute to an increase in the annual premium a consumer pays for auto insurance.
Avoid giving insurance company websites and third-party comparison sites personal information while window shopping for insurance. Only hand over personal information — including driver’s license and Social Security number — when ready to purchase a policy.
An insurance website or third-party comparison site may sell a consumer’s home address to other businesses. This action can increase a consumer’s junk mail.
Purchasing an Insurance Policy
Purchasing an auto insurance policy online can be a quick and easy process. Many insurance company websites allow a consumer to pay for the policy with a credit card and instantly print insurance documents. For a consumer looking to establish proof of coverage, the ability to print documents instantly is a major advantage.
- The type of auto coverage a consumer purchases can have an effect on the company’s ability to make documents available instantly.
- The more vehicles or coverage options a consumer requires, the more time it can take for the insurance company to determine the actual monthly/yearly policy premium.
- Insurance laws in a given state may also require an insurance company to independently verify documentation and proof of payment before extending auto coverage.
Disadvantages of Instant Quotes
An instant quote — directly from an insurance company or third-party website — is only an estimate. The actual premium a consumer pays for coverage may be higher or lower than the initial quoted price. An insurance professional reviews a consumer’s driving records, credit history and coverage needs to determine the actual monthly/yearly premium.
While the actual premium may not vary greatly from the original quoted rate, it’s important to note that the rate can change. A consumer’s insurance company reserves the right to change coverage costs each time a consumer’s policy renews. This tactic allows the company to make adjustments based on a consumer’s driving habits, traffic violations or accidents occurring over the previous policy period.
Purchasing an auto insurance policy online can save a consumer money. The process can also damage a careless consumer’s credit and put her at risk for identity theft.
A smart consumer researches each insurance company thoroughly and visits consumer reporting websites to gauge the opinions of existing customers. Enter your ZIP code and get free car insurance quotes!
Buying a policy from the cheapest insurance provider isn’t always the best option, especially if that company has a history of poor customer service. Spending the extra cash for a competent insurer may save a consumer time and money in the long term. FREE car insurance quotes are available up above by entering in your ZIP code!