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Auto Insurance

Insurance Shopping Online: An Agent’s Perspective

By June 15, 2020No Comments

After hearing stories and seeing questionable quotes from customers who had gotten quotes from online websites (without speaking to an agent), I decided to get quotes from ten major companies directly to see how it compares to what we do here at BIG! I compared default coverages on the quotes, ease of getting the quotes, and pricing structures.


Timing wise, it took me just over an hour to get the quotes. I used a laptop computer and I type fairly quickly. I also had all of my information laid out in front of me, including license and vin #’s. If you have a large family, it could take much longer to gather together birth dates, drivers license numbers, and figuring out how many miles each person drives. Since I am a single person with two vehicles, I had only myself and my two cars. It’s worth mentioning that you would need to click through several “question mark” boxes to figure out what each box is asking for if you’re not familiar with terminology, what each coverage does and make sure the coverage you are getting is correct or comparable to what you currently have.


For my quotes, I used the following coverage:
Bodily Injury: $100,000 person / $300,000 accident
Property Damage: $100,000
Medical Payments: $10,000 (Our default to quote at the agency is $5,000)
Uninsured/Underinsured Bodily Injury: $100,000 person / $300,000 accident
Comprehensive: $100 (Our default to quote at the agency is $500)
Collision: $250 (Our default to quote at the agency is $500)
Roadside Assistance
Rental Car Coverage: $45/day


To begin my search, I went to Google and searched for “auto insurance” and clicked on the first company to get a quote. I went through each company in my search results in order to get quotes. A couple of the companies allowed me to quote competitors with one click. I also took advantage of that option. My search results were not specific to which companies were available in Ohio, however, only one company was unavailable in Ohio.


Each time I visited a new company’s website for a quote, I had to re-enter my information over and over again. Name, address, birthdate, email, phone number, driver’s license number. Sometimes my vehicles populated, sometimes I had to input the information for them like year, make, model, engine, coupe or convertible, etc. Each company asked a series of specific questions, for example “How many miles do you drive in a week? (or a year?)” and “Is your vehicle owned, financed, or leased?” If I had several vehicles or several drivers, this process could’ve been pretty lengthy.


One of the first things I noticed was that “recommended coverages” for vehicles that were paid for, no matter how new they were, always defaulted to liability only. Most companies were not specific on exactly what liability did and did not cover. When we do quotes here at BIG, we ask up front if you’d prefer full coverage or liability, and we are able to offer advice about coverage that will suit your situation best. We completely understand that even if you have a newer, paid for vehicle, you may still want full coverage but the websites didn’t seem to take that into consideration. Sending an unsuspecting customer directly into liability could cause problems later if involved in an accident when they find out they have no coverage!


It is worth mentioning that a couple of the companies had a small popup that said I could chat with someone about my coverage. I didn’t take advantage of that option.


The next thing I noticed was default “full coverage” deductibles were all over the map. Some companies defaulted to $1000, some $750, and some $500. These were usually hidden while the price was featured prominently in the middle at the top with a giant “buy now” button at the bottom. To find my deductibles, I had to click on another tab or open a drop down. It would be easy to purchase a policy not knowing if you had $1000 or $500 for your deductible. If you don’t have your emergency fund in place, you could be faced with a not so pretty surprise bill to have your vehicle or your windshield fixed. We are careful to send over .pdf files of our quotes showing specific coverage numbers in detail. Our normal, default deductibles are $500 Comprehensive /$500 Collision.


Only two of the companies I quoted automatically included Medical Payments. Medical payments help pay your medical bills if you are in a car accident. This is true even if you are just a passenger or not at fault. The average healthcare deductible is $1573. Without medical payments (or too low Medical Payments coverage), you could end up paying completely out of pocket for an ER visit depending on your healthcare plan and your medical bill.


I also noticed that most insurance companies I quoted did not automatically include rental car coverage or roadside assistance. Rental car coverage will give you a rental car while your car is being repaired for less than the cost of one day out of pocket for a rental. If you only have one vehicle, this could be essential. The average repair time in the shop is just under two weeks. At a rate of $20 a day (or more) for a compact car, a bill could run easily over $150.00. Most companies can extend rental car coverage to insureds for around $20 a year. For Roadside Assistance, a tow bill can run in the neighborhood of $100, but the coverage costs a mere $4-$20 a year.

After quoting all the companies and matching their coverage as closely as possible to what I currently have, my current price was still lower (and my coverage was still better, most companies couldn’t compare to what I have) than anything I could find online.


By the time I was finished, my inbox was filled with insurance quotes. I had automatic emails from each company showing me my quote and from a few agents reaching out to offer a more exact quote.


Most websites did tell me that the quote was only an estimate and that I would need to either call, click on, or contact an agent to purchase. This means the price could change if I entered something incorrectly.


At BIG Agency, we are able to quote you with ten companies with one phone call. You only have to give us your information once, and we’ll do the rest of the work. We don’t sell your email address, so your inbox won’t be filled with quotes from every company out there. We’ll weed out what doesn’t work and send you the very best price with coverage that fits your lifestyle. We always make sure you understand your coverage, how it works, and we never overinsure our customers with silly coverages you don’t need. All of this comes at no cost to you.


If you’d like to get a quote, please contact us today! We would love to help you find the best price.