Thursday, February 06, 2014

Car Insurance is a pain.

We've been on a money-saving kick lately, dropping the land line, replacing satellite TV with online services, trying to see if we'll be able to go to a smaller trash can after Christmas, stuff like that.

So we wondered if we could get cheaper car insurance, since everyone advertises it. While getting a quote has gotten easier, sort of, it's still not as easy as one would expect. I was surprised (or weirded out) that with a few pieces of personal info, they were able to tell me what cars I currently own.

GEICO - the quote may have been cheaper, but it zeroed out a bunch of coverage we currently have. Their system lets you customize (so we could compare apples-to-apples with our current insurance) but after I'd change an option, it would break and refuse the load the page. I finally gave up. I get emails every few days from GEICO telling me to "Buy Now" - it doesn't reference the original quote with any specific details (or the cost) and it doesn't invite me back to review my quote, just the hard sell "Buy Now." I had tweeted my experience that night and they didn't respond.

MetroMile - their site doesn't seem to have been fully tested in Chrome as it occasionally glitches. A confusing near-last step ended up with them asking me for a credit card. I thought I was still waiting for the official final quote, but apparently that's supposed to come by email. That email never arrived. I'm going to do the test-drive thing where they send you a small device to plug into your OBD-II port in the car and track your driving habits, but I'm pretty sure they're not competitive. I tweeted my experience and they tweeted inviting me to call them and they also did call and leave a voicemail.

esurance/Allstate - this website broke part-way through the process and I was never able to complete. I never returned to the site.  I tweeted my experience and they invited me to call them.

Liberty Mutual - I'm currently a customer for another product. Their form was by far the most onerous (no auto-lookup) so I thought if I signed in that would save some time. Surprisingly, there's no marketing inside their portal, I'll probably make a separate post about that. At one point in the process when you hit submit the screen refreshes with an error message asking me to find the marked field and fix the error. But there are no marked fields. I tweeted about this. They tweeted back inviting me to call them. They ultimately turned my info over to a local agent who emailed me and left me a voicemail.

Based on what I was able to see, this is one place I won't be able to save any money. It's weird, I should feel good - that I've already been getting the best possible rates on car insurance (yay, USAA!), instead I felt bad that I couldn't squeeze any more money out of the process. (I tried to flip the tactic and see if I could save money on my homeowner's insurance but USAA can't beat Liberty Mutual.)

So my experience is that buying car insurance online isn't as foolproof as it ought to be. This is somewhat of a commodity product but computer glitches and a model that's still biased towards talking to people on the phone mean it's not so cut-and-dried.

Why not talk to a person? When you talk to a salesperson, you're at a disadvantage:

(1) Talking to a person, you want to get it over with quicker, either because you want to respect someone's time, or like me, any real-time interaction is nerve-wracking because I'm such an introvert.

(2) A salesperson sells for a living. I don't buy for a living. So they have the advantage.

(3) I can't easily compare and try out different options when they have the screen in front of them and I can't see their screen.

So I'll stick with my current car insurance provider, USAA. Confident no one can beat their rates, before we even factor in the annual dividend. Oh, and yesterday they just offered me 5% off to help them with a research study - they want me to plug in one of those devices into one of my cars.
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