Insurance Q&A: “Are online insurance quotes accurate?”
The internet has changed the face of insurance sales. Millions of Americans are hitting the web to do their insurance shopping nowadays.
And like everything else viewed and purchased on the internet, you can win or lose depending on how you go about the process.
This leads a lot of our readers to ask if online insurance quotes are reliable or accurate. There’s an old adage that comes to mind every time we here at TTAI get asked this question. “You get out of life what you put into it.”
The same can be said for online insurance quotes.
Today’s insurance rating is a far cry from the days when there was one rate for a person based solely on the driver’s age and the type of car they drove.
Insurance agents used to manually calculate rates using “rating manuals” at their desk. They would ask you three or four questions and give you the rate in person.
Now it’s all done on computers, with the agent entering several bits of information into a company’s software before the computer spits out the quote.
That said, the process can certainly be accomplished accurately via the internet by having you fill in the information instead of the agent.
How Do I Get an Accurate Insurance Quote?
The accuracy of your insurance quote will depend on how much (and the quality of) the information entered into the computer software. Below are some tips to ensure an accurate insurance premium quote.
Credit History: Your credit history, known as an insurance score for our purposes, will weigh heavily on your final premium.
Insurance scores are unique to the individual, so putting in a fake name or birth date will likely result in a premium that’s nowhere near accurate.
It’s best to provide your social security number, which can be scary over the internet. Just be sure to verify the website you are using is secure. If you are not sure (by reading the fine print) simply move on to the next website. There are thousands of sites out there, so it shouldn’t be difficult to find reliable ones.
*Be certain to provide a two-year address history if you aren’t willing to pony up the social security number. Insurers can sometimes locate your insurance score using your address.
Vehicle VIN Number: Is your 2006 Mustang the base model or a 500-horsepower monster with a convertible top? The difference in premium is huge, so be sure you provide the correct model to get the correct premium returned.
Providing your vehicle’s unique VIN number while quoting will ensure no surprises when you go to actually purchase the policy (which cannot be done without a VIN).
Driving History: Insurers review your MVR, C.L.U.E. report, and in some instances a CARFAX report to determine your final rate. Most insurers review a three to five year history of tickets and insurance claims (whether your fault or not) for every driver listed on the policy.
Leave off a speeding ticket or forget about the accident your wife had two-and-a-half years ago, and you’ll get an unwelcome surprise when these reports are eventually ordered.
Don’t assume the reports are ordered at any given point unless you are told they have been. These reports cost the insurer money and are not always ordered until far into the purchasing process to ensure they are not paying for a report when you have not demonstrated seriousness about buying a policy.
Coverage: Make sure you know exactly what coverage you want/need. Speak to an insurance agent or do your research on the internet to determine what coverage you may require.
Getting a bare bones state minimum car insurance policy may look good from a budgeting standpoint, but can come back to bite you at claim time.
A Few Tips
Shop online for insurance quotes to get a good ballpark of what you should be paying for your insurance. Once you know your “ballpark” figure, visit a local independent insurance agent who can shop your rate with several carriers and get you into that ballpark range.
Visiting a captive agent, one who sells insurance for just a single company, will limit you to only one quote. The only way to get a lower premium from this type of agent will require raising deductibles or lowering coverage…which isn’t recommended.