The best way to buy insurance online

Thursday, July 29, 2010
By Sara Moore
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Insurance expert, Richard Reich of, tells us what to look for when buying insurance online. “One giant pitfall is that many companies and broker sites require that people enter their names, email addresses and phone numbers,” he said. “This almost always leads to your email box filling up and your phone ringing off the hook as multiple agents contact you to buy policies. Other sites show customers low quotes that may be unrealistic, and then requote to higher rates as they get more information from the customer.”

Choose a website that has multiple insurance companies
When you get a quote from a single insurance company, all you’re getting is that one insurance company’s idea of what you can pay. There is no competitive analysis that you can do with a single quote. Moreover, you could wind up getting inundated with emails and calls from that company to see you about that one policy. The way to win at online insurance shopping is to get multiple quotes, without having to give up your personal information.

Check financial ratings and strength
The recent financial crisis hit a great number of the major insurance companies, so don’t choose based on reputation alone. Check their financial strength ratings with consumer advocate sites as well as financial ratings companies like A.M. Best. Many of the ratings of reputable firms may have changed during the recession. Also, consumer advocacy sites rate firms based on customer service, which is a key component of buying insurance. Getting a good rate is important, but if the customer service lags, then what are you really paying for?

Be careful of rate quote “Bait and Switch”
Some companies will initially give you the best possible quote based on incomplete information, and by the time they walk you through all the nuances of the policy and your health history, you may wind up with a much higher bill than anticipated. If your quote does not take into account your height and weight and answers to basic health questions, then it’s possible that you’ve been baited with an artificially low rate.

Check for electronic signatures
You may shop online, but then be required to go to a local office to sign all the paperwork and complete your transaction. Some sites are shifting to accepting electronic signatures to complete their insurance transactions.


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