The Downside of Buying Auto Insurance Online
For years, applying for insurance online has been the most efficient way to compare auto insurance plan rates. Without having to drive to different local offices, customers are comparing plans in their area instantly. Online shopping has provided a way for customers to connect with coverage providers in the privacy of their own homes. It also gives customers more choices, faster processing times, and increased savings.
But with everything that has an upside, there is a downside. The problem didn’t come with insurance companies themselves, but with online referrers.
Online quote providers typically work like this. A website provides a quote submission form for customers to fill out. When someone seeking coverage comes to a referring website, they submit the quote form, and their information is then sent to local insurance agents. These local agents pay for these leads, or customers, with the hopes of bringing in more business.
The online shopping experience has evolved, but there are still three major hurdles to overcome:
The first hurdle is false information. Some lead services have been accused by agents of selling bad leads. These are leads where the person named on the application never requested a quote, or provided outdated or inaccurate information. In some cases, it was the online referrers sending bad leads themselves. These horrible practices not only hurt good insurance agents, they also hurt good affiliates who were sending quality leads. And while most modern lead services now have strict verification rules, there is still plenty of room for progress.
The second major hurdle to overcome is the overselling of leads. Overselling occurs when a customer’s information is sold to too many different companies. When the agents from the different companies begin to follow up on their leads, a customer can become overwhelmed with unwanted phone calls from insurance agents. This is also bad for agents, because they don’t want to be the sixth or seventh guy calling to sell you insurance. As frustrating as this is for customers, it can be even worse for struggling agents who basically paid for nothing. If you are agent, use a referrer that only sells leads to between two and four agents at a time.
The third hurdle is the lack of personal interaction. Quoting services do a great job of showing you plans being offered from different companies. What they don’t do, however, is assist you with customizing your plan. So even when you get a quote online, follow up with an agent from any company that interests you. He or she will have more leverage with the coverage provider they work for, making it easier to customize a plan to suit your needs. Also, interacting with a company rep will give you an idea of how you will be treated as a customer, as well as how you will be treated when you have a claim.
Applying for insurance online is a great way for drivers and insurers to come together. And it will become an even better way as we come up with ways to eliminate false information, the overselling of leads, and the lack of personal interaction.
Until the system is perfected, here is a good way to find a plan. Use one of the online quote comparison services as a way to get an idea of prices. Then, when you have finished looking over the offers, follow up with the company of your choice. You can then request changes to your plan. Incorporating online and offline methods into finding a plan will give you the best of both worlds, and save you cash.