Its hardly news to point out the Internet has revolutionized business in the 21st century. Thanks to the Web, consumers have more information than ever to make smarter buying decisions. Websites like Travelocity, Expedia, Priceline and Kayak have changed the travel business, and put many travel agents out of business. But where is the Kayak of auto insurance, helping consumers find the best deals and lowest rates to insure their cars & trucks?
At least two websites are attempting to provide consumers with auto insurance quotes online from multiple companies, without the consumer having to disclose specific personal information, like names, social security numbers or vehicle identification numbers. I’ve looked at both Insurance Zebra and Ratekick, and although I’m impressed with each site’s design and ease of use, it’s not possible for them to give even approximately accurate auto insurance quotes to consumers anonymously through their websites.
The best way to get auto insurance quotes online is to go to each auto insurance company’s website (and include an online independent insurance agency operating in your state, if available) and provide your personal information as requested. This blog post will review Insurance Zebra and Ratekick, and explain why they are a far cry from being the Expedia of auto insurance.
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First, let me start with this caveat:
Be careful choosing a website before providing personal information for an auto insurance quote.
The majority of Websites, other than insurance company or insurance agency sites, offering auto insurance quotes from multiple insurance companies, collect your information and sell it to insurance companies and agents. The agents & companies purchasing your information will contact you to quote your auto insurance. This is not necessarily a bad way to start shopping, since you save time by providing your basic information once, and having leading insurance companies contact you (Keep in mind, some very good auto insurance companies, like Amica & USAA, are not likely to purchase your information, so be sure to review my information on the major auto insurance companies in each state, to find the best company and rates for you) to quote you accurately. However, you don’t want to use more than one of these sites, to avoid having the same companies contact you more than once.
The downside of using one or more of these sites, is they may sell your information to other marketing companies, and you may find yourself contacted frequently to get auto insurance quotes for years to come. I prefer to get auto insurance quotes, or find a local agent to contact, from each insurance company’s website. This approach is more time-consuming, but insurance companies aren’t likely to sell your information, comply with do-not-call requests, and you won’t be constantly solicited.
There are two websites, Insurance Zebra & Ratekick, quoting multiple companies online, without getting your specific personal information:
Insurance Zebra review
Insurance Zebra recently started providing auto insurance quotes for people living in Texas & California. I’m in Oregon, but the site offered to show me the rates for my old car if I lived in Beverly Hills, CA. After I put in my type of car, and the default of the Beverly Hills zip code, 90210, the site showed me prices for 15 companies. You have to update the driver, vehicle, & discounts section with the information applicable to you (For example, your age & marital status). You really have to hunt for the “select coverage” in the upper right hand corner of the screen, where you have some coverage package options, but the specific coverage you are being quoted is hard to read. Other than that, the site is very simple and easy to use. However, I doubt the accuracy of its quotes, or its ability to show you which companies will have the best rates for you.
In most states, its impossible to quote you accurately without specific personal information like your social security number, since credit is used in development of the rates. Your credit is blended with other factors, like your driving record, and current liability limits, to develop an “insurance score.” Some companies have more than 16 different levels of insurance scores, so an insurance company needs your specific information, beyond whether you have excellent, good, average, or poor credit, to quote you accurately. The good thing about California is the state does not allow the use of credit in determining auto insurance rates, but I still have little confidence any website can come close to approximating the correct price accurately, even in California, without your specific information.
Before auto insurance companies could instantly check your Motor Vehicle Report, Claims history report, and Insurance history report while quoting you, it was common for auto insurance policies to be issued at hundreds of dollars more than they were quoted, due to incorrect assumptions made by the agent or customer. It took an experienced agent to ask probing questions of the customer, to make sure the customer received the lowest and most accurate quote. Expecting customers to accurately quote themselves using anonymous general information, most of which is defaulted to answers not applicable to the customer, is highly improbable in California, and impossible in other states.
Ratekick quotes auto insurance nationwide, so I was able to get multiple auto insurance quotes for my car. Ratekick asked for my year, make, and model of my car, my age, sex, and martial status, my zip code and current insurance company, and gave me quotes for 9 companies. Being familiar with what these auto insurance companies would charge me, I know the price quotes were nowhere close to being accurate, although the default coverage was very close to my actual coverage. I pay low auto insurance rates, but there is no way anyone is paying $97 every 6 months with Safeco, $74 every 6 months with Country Insurance, or even the slightly more realistic $285 with Allstate every 6 months. $285 would be half of what I was quoted with Allstate the last time Allstate quoted me.
There can be big a difference in the price for the same coverage among auto insurance companies, and over time, a company with a high rate for you in the past might now have much lower rates for you. But knowing the many factors, some specific to the individual, used to rate auto insurance policies, which are ignored or assumed by Ratekick, I have no confidence in the accuracy of the rates I was quoted, or Ratekick’s ability to determine the companies with the best rates for me.
Summary: Sites like Ratekick & Insurance Zebra will not be beneficial or accurate until they start collecting personal information and checking reports, like a consumer’s MVR & credit report. Progressive does this when it quotes other companies, and I was surprised how accurate those quotes were for me, given the complexity of most auto insurance companies’ rating plans. When shopping for the best rates, there is no substitute for talking with an experienced agent or company representative, with expert knowledge of their company’s rating plan. When I was quoting auto insurance, I could often review quotes and find significant additional savings.
Many people pay too much for their insurance because they never shop for better rates, or if they do shop, they don’t check the rates of enough companies. For a lot of people, the best insurance company is the one with the lowest rates. The ad below will take you to links to get online quotes from leading Home, Auto, Health, & Life insurance companies in your area. Choose the type of insurance, put in your zip, and start shopping now!
Have you used Insurance Zebra, Ratekick, or another website to get auto insurance quotes from multiple companies? Were the quotes accurate? What was your experience? Tell me about it. Comment on my facebook page. If you have questions and would like my help, you can reach me at email@example.com. Follow me on Twitter for important insurance consumer news & new blog entries at CarInsWatch.