Before the digital age, the only way to purchase car insurance was through an agent. Today there are many online services that provide alternative options when shopping for insurance. Purchasing car insurance online has become popular because it is fast, convenient, and affordable. With the digital age making insurance shopping more accessible, are insurance agents necessary?
It is a good idea to review different methods of purchasing insurance. There are benefits and disadvantages to each one. Since car insurance is mandatory by law and there are many different policy options, it is important to be clear what type of coverage you are getting during the time of purchase.
Sources of Car Insurance
Independent agents sell insurance through multiple carriers. Some agents prefer to sell for one carrier but they still have the ability to do business with other carriers to suit their clients’ needs. The difference between independent agents and insurance carriers is that the independent agents work directly for the client. This allows a greater freedom of search between different insurance carriers in order to find the best fit for the client. Many clients receive personalized services and are handled by the agent directly with twenty-four hour customer service available.
Captive agents sell and work for one primary insurance carrier. These type of agents work for one designated carrier such as Allstate and Nationwide. The agents work directly for their carriers and are responsible in bringing in new clients and business. Twenty-four hour customer service is available for most of the big carriers but individual agents handle clients’ needs directly.
Purchasing insurance online means that there are no agents involved in the transaction. The client does all of the work specifying which insurance they need and in providing all the necessary personal information online. Some of the largest online insurance carriers are Progressive and Esurance.
Benefits of an Agent
Local Knowledgeable Service
Having an agent who resides in your local area is a great benefit. An agent can relate to where you live and offer relevant services such as recommending good mechanics and body shops.
Having personalized service is a bonus especially in the insurance industry. There are so many automated services from phone hotlines to websites that it is a breath of fresh air to talk to a real person and see a smiling face. There are many questions that may arise during maintenance and claims with car insurance. Having the ability to communicate with an agent can resolve many issues quickly and efficiently that can help build a strong relationship.
Most payments today are made through checks or credit/debit cards. Some people prefer to pay with cash and most agencies will accept this form of payment.
An advantage of having an agent is the multi-policy discount. Insurance carriers tend to offer products through their agents that will cover homes, cars, recreational vehicles, and financial services that can be combined to receive a multi-policy discount. Some online services do not offer services for homeowners or individuals who are interested in financial products which can limit the bundling of discounts.
The Benefits of Buying Direct Car Insurance
Purchasing car insurance directly online is very fast and convenient. Many services provide instant quotes from multiple carriers that allow clients to compare rates and coverage while deciding which policy fits their needs. It is much quicker to buy insurance this way than providing all of your personal information to an agent and waiting for a call back.
It is a possibility to receive lower rates while purchasing car insurance directly online. Direct carriers do not pay agent commissions and these savings usually get passed on to new customers. To really save money it is necessary to do research on which carriers provide the cheapest car insurance that will fit your needs.
Insurance agents are not an integral part of selling insurance due to the services offered with today’s technology. It comes down to personal preference of how you would like to purchase insurance and whether an agent is required or not. If you have time to learn important aspects of insurance terminology to fully understand different types of policies, then purchasing directly online may save you time and money. However, it is also beneficial to shop through an agent that can provide specialized service and answer any questions you may need. It is also smart to explore both options while shopping for insurance in order to find the cheapest rates, lifestyle fit, and friendly service.