Online shopping has become a big business for all kinds of industries. It is so much quicker and easier for consumers to find a product online from the comfort of their own home. This is especially true for those major purchases that aren’t all that fun – such as car insurance. Most younger drivers would not consider the idea of going to a brick-and-mortar establishment to talk to a human insurance agent. Online car insurance comparison sites are sold as the most convenient, beneficial option these days. But, is that really the case.
The truth is that there are pros and cons to finding online auto insurance quotes from comparison sites. The methods and options available will suit some demographics of drivers better than others. There is also the fact that many of the perks – such as speed, accessibility, and lower costs – also come with potential downsides. It is important to appreciate the positive and negative side of online car insurance before you dive in. So, let’s start with that idea of faster service.
Online Car Insurance Quotes Are Faster – But Is Faster Always Better?
Online means 24/7 access to information and quotes from any location with a Wi-Fi signal. You don’t have to schedule in a time to go into the city and deal with an insurance broker face to face. Before the days of the internet, this would have meant dashing out on a lunch break or day off to catch them on their 9-5 weekday opening hours. Now, if you have one of those 2 am sudden realizations that you need to renew soon, you can sort it out there and then.
The downside to this instant access is that it is too easy to rush into the decision at the wrong time. You could say to yourself: “This will only take 20 minutes so I’ll speed through it on my commute home”. This is an understandable mindset. Get the annoying job out of the way quickly and then focus on more important or fun tasks. The problem here is that you might not get the most from the transaction if you rush. It helps to take your time with a cup of coffee, a notepad, a calculator and a large screen to get the best deal.
Yet, there is another plus side to this speedy, instant approach of online dealers. Before long, you will find that it is time to renew your car insurance. A standard insurance agent will send you a renewal quote – often at an inflated price – and expect you to pay it. When you sign up to a comparison site you can save your details, make any necessary changes the next time and save even more time.
Online Quotes For Car Insurance Often Mean More Choice – But Is There Too Much Choice?
You can indeed get access to more companies and options when you decide to take the online route. A comparison website for online auto insurance quotes will provide different quotes from a range of companies. This automatically puts you at an advantage because you get to see the prices from competitors. This may be a big red flag that your current provider isn’t being completely transparent or helpful. It is then easy to shop around and find something new. An insurance agent from a special company can only show a limited selection of options. This is based on your details, their range and possibly any sales quotas they need to make.
While this chance to compare deals is a definite advantage over the traditional option, it is important to remember one thing. These sites aren’t always 100% transparent either. Some companies will get a push to the front of the queue if they can pay for the privilege. Comparison sites need to make money themselves so they will advertise the highest bidders – not necessarily the best companies. Also, it is important to note that not all companies are listed on these sites. Some of the biggest names, and potentially the best deals, are to be found elsewhere. Those that instantly click on “this week’s top pick” or the cheapest on the first screen may not have the full picture in front of them.
Online Auto Insurance Shopping Lets You Do Things Your Way – If You Are Comfortable Doing So
Shopping online for insurance cover also gives you the chance to read up on policies and ask the right questions at your pace. No broker is leading the conversation in a specific direction. These websites also tend to offer simple FAQ sections with helpful tips for those new to the process. You can fill in the form with all your details, wait for the site to show you the best options and work from there. If you don’t like what you get, you are free to search around and try a different approach.
If you decide to compare the market yourself, you could find a great deal from a bigger range of companies. You also get to choose which pages you look at, which providers you might be interested in switching to and which perks to add. You can jump between websites, research clauses and get a better idea of the market. This is perfect for those that worry about all those biased comparison sites.
If you know what you want from the deal then the online approach can be the best option because of this sense of control. However, there are drawbacks for all those that don’t know what they should opt for. The wealth of comparison sites, policies, and information on offer can be overwhelming when handling this alone. If this is your first time negotiating the best online car insurance quotes then you need some form of a game plan. Otherwise, you may fall into a rabbit hole of different clauses and options.
Online Quotes For Auto Deals Could Be A Lot Cheaper Than A Renewal Quote
You could save money on your car insurance. Now, this is a line that we have heard time and time again concerning these ventures. But, there is a lot of truth in this if you pick the right site and the right deal. There are a few possible benefits here financially. You could put in your details and search for a quote and end up with a lot of competitive offers. This means that you can see what the competition is offering to new customers and some of the other available perks. The online approach also allows you to play with the data and variables to try and find the lowest rate. You can adjust the plan based on your deductibles, named drivers, mileage and other factors.
You may also find that you go on one of these comparison sites and receive a quote from your current provider. More often than not, that quote will turn out to be a lot cheaper than the renewal quote. The simple truth here is that companies favor new customers over loyal ones in terms of the best deals. This can be a bit of a shock at first but you have three options now. You could:
- Take a better quote from a new provider and enjoy the perks of being a new customer
- Show your current provider the quote for new drivers and get them to change your renewal price to match.
- Get them to match the price of a cheaper brand so you don’t have to switch companies but still get the cheapest deal.
The only downside in doing this is that you need to have the confidence to negotiate with an insurance agent. A lot of the time, these insurance companies will fold as soon as they are caught out. They will either match the deal to that of a new driver or beat a competitor’s price. The bottom line here is that they don’t want to lose your custom.
Online Car Insurance Comparison Sites Cut Out The Middlemen – Is That Always A Good Thing?
A large part of this lower-cost comes down to the fact that there is no agent in the middle of the process. Therefore, the company isn’t going to hike up the price to pay a member of staff. You are dealing with an online mascot more than a real person in the best situations. No one is going to try and push you into a specific direction because they profit from it. Also, you aren’t going to get that condescending talk of a salesman that assumes you know nothing about money or cars. The threat of everyday sexism is reduced when dealing with a genderless online presence.
However, what happens if you do need more advice or guidance or a specific plan? This is the downside to finding quotes on your own at home. You may not have that instant professional help that may lead to a lower-priced plan or a new incentive. Instead, you may be left with an overly-friendly online assistant that reels off a scripted response with very little insight. That, or a contact email with the promise of assistance within a few working days.
The other downside to a lack of human presence in this situation is that you have to do all the hard work. When you visit an insurance agent in person. You can fill in your details and leave it to them to file the claim and get everything processed. To be honest, this is part of the reason that it costs a little more. The reality is that you are paying for a more comprehensive service this way. Also, it is their responsibility to ensure that everything is correct and finalized. Do it yourself and a lost application may float around in cyberspace for a while.
The Pros and Cons of Online Car Insurance Quotes
In short, we can break down the pros and cons like this:
- More choice in quotes and plans
- A greater chance of cheaper deals
- A speedy 24/7 approach for busy users
- No middlemen calling the shots
- Too much choice for some
- Sites promoting deals to make money
- Limited professional support
So, which is the right approach for you? Traditional, online comparison sites or something else?
Sticking With the Traditional Markets
If the idea of comparison sites and online shopping isn’t really for you, you might be better off sticking with a traditional insurance agent. It can be overwhelming to go online and deal with all the forms and details – especially if the system is new to you. If you are an older driver that just wants a simple renewal and isn’t that technically minded, a real agent may be the best approach. Tell them what you want and let them handle the hard work.
Working With Comparison Sites
The online approach is ideal for all those that don’t have the confidence to negotiate the best deal. This is especially true for new, younger drivers that could be coerced in bad plans and high premiums. If you have some idea of the best approach or someone to help you, you can take control of the process and compare some great deals. The only major downside in this situation is the lack of professional support if it goes wrong.
Handling Online Companies By Yourself
An alternative is to try and get the best of both worlds. You don’t have to rely so heavily on the information and quotes of a single comparison site if you feel that it is too limited. If you have the confidence to shop around and email companies yourself, you might be able to compare the best deals personally. This would let you do things entirely your way and you might get a better deal. However, you need more time, patience and knowledge to do this. Sit down with someone that understands the market and dedicate an afternoon to getting it right.
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