Should You Shop for Car Insurance Online?

Learn the Pros and Cons

Illustration of hand pressing a buy now button to buy car insurance online.
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In today’s world, more and more companies are losing faith in brick and mortar stores and retail engagement, instead opting to do business either entirely or partially online.

For many industries, this works—it’s a lot more simple and easy to shop for a bed or mattress online and have it delivered to your door than it is to find a friend with a truck or minivan, shop at different stores, compare prices without really being able to compare them to other stores properly, and lug the huge thing home.

For some industries, like sit-down restaurants and coffee shops, part of what you’re paying for is the experience, which would be hard to outsource to the internet. It may sound silly, but shopping for car insurance is a lot like eating at a restaurant in a lot of ways—part of what you pay for is an experienced agent that knows you face-to-face.

Pros of Online Insurance Providers

The pros and cons of online car insurance are important to know if you are shopping for car insurance. Purchasing car insurance—and nearly everything else a person could need—online is becoming more popular. However, online providers have yet to outdo the local insurance agent. If you are thinking of taking a leap into online insurance land, learn exactly what the pros and cons are when compared with the traditional route of an insurance agent.

Purchase Insurance Anytime

Great for today's busy lifestyle, online insurance has the convenience of being available at all hours of the day. Gone are the days when the only time you could purchase insurance was between 9 and 5. Convenience is a big perk of online insurance.

Instant Access to Insurance Documents

Although being able to print insurance documents online is becoming common with most insurance carriers, most do not offer an ID card at the point of purchase online. Printing online car insurance proofs is available at the point of purchase.

Ask Insurance Questions Online

The internet is a great resource for insurance information. An answer can be found to nearly any insurance question you might have. The online insurance companies do a good job of providing smart and easy to understand insurance information.

Save By Skipping the Middle Man

Purchasing your insurance online skips the middleman, which is the insurance agent. Theoretically, buying insurance direct should save money since the insurance company does not have to pay an agent. A lot of different factors go into insurance ratings so it is definitely not a slam dunk when it comes to price but it does warrant a look.

Cons of Online Insurance Providers

Difficult to Speak With a Person

Never underestimate the importance of speaking with a live person when it comes to your car insurance. Questions pop up, websites malfunction, and a real person is needed from time to time to verify the accuracy of your policy. Dealing with an 800 number is not necessarily awful, but it is impersonal and usually annoying if you have to go through an automated system and wait on hold.

Prior Insurance Knowledge Required

Without an agent, you will have to research answers to your insurance questions. Another option would be to call the online insurance company's 800 number. Online insurance companies have agents answering your questions, but you do not have an assigned agent so you'll probably speak with a different person each time you call. A personal insurance agent's expertise can save a lot of time. Researching insurance questions on your own or dealing with an 800 number can be time-consuming. Understanding your coverage is essential so be prepared to spend some time looking up insurance information if you buy your insurance online.

Lack of Help Filing a Claim

At the time of a loss, it is comforting to have a familiar voice help you through the claims process. Many insurance agents file claims for their clients. With an online car insurance company, you will have to file a claim on your own. Claims are not difficult to file but in a time of stress, it is nice to have someone do the work for you.

Computer Knowledge Needed

It takes quite a bit of effort to fill in all the information required for a car insurance quote online. If you are not comfortable on the computer, do not even think about buying insurance online. Let an agent do the work for you.

Missing Insurance Types for Multi-Policy Discount

Most online insurance companies do not offer homeowners insurance. If you do not own a home or need renters insurance, it really wouldn't affect your rates. However, if you are a homeowner, you would be missing out on a multi-policy discount. Some online insurance sites do work with other insurance companies to provide coverage on a home but it is still not providing the multi-policy discount.

The Bottom Line

Purchasing insurance online can be a good option but it is not for everyone. Take time to weigh the pros and cons to see if an online insurance policy is a good fit for you. Get as many quotes as possible when shopping for insurance to make a well-informed decision. Insurance is serious business and it is important to understand exactly what is being purchased.