A Guide to Buying Insurance Online

Buying insurance used to mean calling around to a bunch of insurance agents until you found a policy that matched your needs. Not fun. Fortunately, the process has changed for the better. Today, buying insurance is as simple as going online.

With a few clicks of the mouse, you can get quotes for auto insurance, life insurance, travel insurance, homeowner’s insurance – even renter’s insurance.

Reasons to Buy Insurance Online

These days there are more reasons to shop online than not. Consider the following:

  • It’s fast. You can get insurance quotes and purchase a policy in minutes
  • It’s competitive. With so many insurance companies competing for your business, you can be sure that you’ll get the best rate possible
  • No personal information is required. You can keep your Social Security number, driver’s license number and other personal data private until you’re ready to buy a policy
  • You can shop 24 hours a day. You don’t need to worry about fitting insurance shopping into your busy workday. Just fire up the computer when you have a few spare minutes, and you’re ready to go. No appointment required
  • It’s one-stop shopping. You don’t have to call multiple insurance companies to get multiple quotes, and you don’t have to listen to multiple sales pitches
  • There’s no sales pressure. You decide when you’re ready to buy and how much you need to buy
  • It’s anonymous. If they don’t collect your personal data, they can’t bother you with sales calls and junk mail solicitations
  • Policies are easy to customize. You can tweak your coverage and deductible again and again until you end up with a policy that fits your needs and your budget

How to Get Started

Ready to find that perfect policy? Before you jump online to launch your search, spend some time evaluating your insurance needs. Here are several questions to consider:

  • What type of policy do you need?
  • If you already have coverage, how much are you paying now? What does your policy include?
  • How much coverage do you need?
  • How much can you afford to spend on premiums?
  • How would you like your premium payments broken up (monthly, every six months, yearly)?
  • How would you like to handle payments (auto-pay, included in your escrow, billed to you)?
  • How much of a deductible are you willing to pay? (if applicable)
  • What benefits would you like the policy to include?
  • Are there any special riders that need to be added to the policy?
  • How soon do you need the policy to start?

Have a handle on your insurance needs? Then, it’s time to start shopping! When pricing insurance online, you have two options. You could: use an insurance quotes website or get quotes directly from insurance companies. Which is better? Both have their advantages.

Use an insurance quotes website when:

  • You only want to input your personal information once
  • You want to get quotes from lots of insurance companies
  • You don’t have a lot of time to shop

Get quotes directly from insurance companies when:

  • You’re interested in quotes from specific companies
  • You need someone to walk you through the process (many insurance websites are equipped with live chat)
  • You don’t feel comfortable sharing your information with a lesser-known third-party

Made your choice? Then, head over to your chosen website (or websites), and get busy collecting those insurance quotes!

Avoid Online Insurance Scams

  • Check the American Insurance Association website to verify that the company is a member in good standing before purchasing a policy (with American Insurance Association website linked to: http://www.aiadc.org/AIApub/landing.aspx?m=1&v=30&docid=313501)
  • Check the company’s Best Rating. (A.M. Best is an independent company that rates the financial strength and creditworthiness of banks and insurance companies) (with Best Rating linked to: http://www.ambest.com/homepage.asp)
  • Do a web search for the insurance company’s name and the word “complaint” to see what other consumers have to say about the company. Also try the company’s name and the word “scam”
  • Never give out your Social Security number, driver’s license number or any other personal information to get a quote. You shouldn’t have to provide that information until you’re ready to buy
  • Do not pay for a quote. Insurances quotes should always be free
  • Only enter your personal information on a secure website. They’ll have an “s” after the “http” portion of the web address, like this: https://www.somecompany.com
  • Look for an online privacy policy on the company’s website. If they don’t have one, move on to a site that does
  • Refuse any requests for a company to share your information with others
  • Pay with a credit card to limit your fraud liability
  • Be leery of any offer that sounds too good to be true – it probably is

Online Insurance Shopping Tips

  • Verify that your chosen insurance company is licensed to do business in your state. Your state insurance department’s website should provide a list of licensed companies
  • Be detailed and honest when filling out applications. Failure to disclose medical conditions, past auto accidents, etc. could result in denied claims or cancelled coverage.
  • Most companies offer a discount when you purchase multiple policies through them. Look into moving some of your existing insurance policies over to the company that you’re considering. It could save you a ton
  • Not sure what you need? Use a local agent to help you sort it out. Then, continue your search online
  • Read the terms of the policy carefully, and be sure you understand everything before you agree to buy
  • Keep a record of all of the paperwork that you filled out online – including the price quote that you received

Found a good deal on insurance?

Don’t purchase that policy until you’ve researched the offer carefully, and are comfortable with both the terms of the policy and the people that you’re dealing with. Remember: it’s only a good deal, if you get what you paid for.

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