JANUARY 18, 2020
face it. Life isn’t a leafy lane a lot of the time. Life is challenging. Yet, once we accept that premise, it becomes easier. Often only a fine line lies between us and more–really. Car insurance is a prime example. You need it. They want an arm for it. We just saw through it, to a 29% lower premium, with a higher rated company, for the exact same coverage. Fact. You have as much say in the amount you pay as they do. How? We made a choice, had an insight, took an action. That can change things. Did for us.
Turn the tables on how you think about auto insurance. Competition is alive and well. But the real competition is between quoting agents, regardless of the company or other price-carving details. The agent’s the end of the pipe. We exercise as much say over our premium as companies do, if we’re willing to walk. No one’s chained us to any particular agent, policy, or company. Switching’s not a sin. It’s called business.
A better rate and probably a better agent are out there ready to meet your motoring coverage needs. We found both, again, saving us 29% or $360.00 a year without bundling. Fact. And it was so easy. All it takes is a bit of time, a telephone, and an internet connection. “Auto Insurance. Your Best Rate Awaits. It’s So Easy.”
uses this product. That’s why we decided to have a look inside. Insurance is mandated by law. Zuckerberg’s working on the same for Facebook. We pay premiums like clockwork and are gaffed like Piranna when filing a claim. “Can I lower my car insurance by switch?” you may ask? School is supposed to prepare one for adulthood, yet we didn’t hear a single word about car insurance in HS or B school. Watch football? Then you’ve seen a lifetime’s worth of insurance ads. How many people vigorously comparison shop? Of those who do, do they request multiple quotes from the same company?
Are you willing to be treated with raving suspicion? Request quotes, agent after agent, from the same companies. Then stand back. We did, and we were hosed over with open rage for our efforts. We were lied to, insulted, and shunned. We also locked in a 29% discount, and a far better agent. We poked and invaded the business like a virus. “Agents” twitched and jerked with revulsion. Why? We think because they realized we were on to their pretense about uniform pricing. Why else?
All we wanted was a bulging bag of Fa King truth about the hyper-competitive arena of auto insurance, that and another bulging bag of fat savings. We got both. Fact 1. Insurance agents like politicians prefer ignorant peasants.
One needn’t be an idiot to be involved in a wreck. The Doctor simply took a slot in a lot. Before she could even exit the vehicle her right rear quarter panel was crushed in like a pop can. A restless crowd surrounded the car while the business owner raved about “not calling the cops.” Huh? Two months later and all good again the Doctor side-swiped a guardrail. Oops–back in the repair process and tagline calls with an agent who behaved as though all power lie elsewhere. Useless. Suddenly the Doctor’s previously claim-free and decade-plus history of loyalty to the company seemed meaningless. Her complacent agent was nice but said accident forgiveness wasn’t possible because she’d moved. Gimmick disqualification. Time to go. That’s where Sj came in.
Fact 2. Agents will vigorously deny that pricing varies widely from agent to agent. But it does.
We asked questions and were repeatedly told amid gushing frustration that “We don’t manipulate prices. They’re set by the company.” This is supposed to be true, by regulation. We responded with a very simple question. “Then why is every quote different?” Why were the quotes provided displaying a $30 variance–from $107 to $77? We received two responses for that. 1. “I don’t know–let me look” and, 2. “You’ve given them different information.” Nonsense. Without exception each verbal exchange ended quickly following that exchange.
Fact 3. Agents are the end of the pipe. They are where you go to shop premiums.
now we hadn’t investigated the insurance industry. We own no insurance company stocks. What we do clearly know is that knowledge is indeed power, and often in turn money. The insurance industry wants yours, and in turn wants you to focus on you, not them. When it comes to premiums they pretend the process is uniform and tied with a bow. What do they say? Your premium is alone determined by you; your driving record, the amount you drive, where you drive, why you drive, what you drive, the value of your vehicle, etc. They now even use your credit score. Scads of truth there.
Fact 4. Select two companies that rate/review well and quote your ass off. We got ten from each. Your price will improve dramatically.
We also know that agents pretend to be simply functionaries, only able to implement the set policies of “the company,” who, again, “sets the price.” Agents are advocates for you. If they’re not advocating for you, stop paying them. Agents want you to believe that all agents from a particular company will provide the same quote. Utter rubbish. We collected dozens of quotes, from numerous companies, and none were the same. We went further and collected numerous quotes from each company, 10 from one in particular, and not one of them matched. None. So in the final analysis, should you really care who’s setting the price? Keep quoting like a lab rat and watch your price improve dramatically. Fact.
are what you pay as premiums. Agents are not the only source of nonsense concerning pricing. Here’s what Zacks has to say: “Rates are set based on classes of underwriting risk, so two agents at the same company quoting rates for the same policy at the same time will wind up with the same premium. While this helps protect less-knowledgeable customers, it also prevents customers from getting agents to compete with each other on price.”–“Can Changing Agents with the Same Company Save You Money?” Zacks. Undated. https://finance.zacks.com/can-changing-agents-same-insurance-save-money-11400.html
Do you care whether it’s the actuary, the underwriter, or the agent setting the price? No. Again, agents are the end of the pipe. That’s where the pricing emerges. Test it. Pick a mainline insurer, go to their website, and work the quote process. Call five agents in your area and request quotes. We did, and none matched. We then returned to the site and completed the online process again. Guess what? That result didn’t even match the first, or any provided by agents. Does that sound like uniform pricing to you?
Most also know that “bundling” coverage creates real savings. Homeowner’s insurance premiums also vary widely agent to agent. We compared individual agency quotes for precisely the same coverage, from the very same company and were provided with quotes that varied by 100%. Fact. The highest quote charged twice the premium. When confronted the agent checked the coverage details and then simply said “I don’t know.”
Insurance applications and their premiums are processed through “actuaries” who assess risk, and “underwriters” who assess you as an applicant. Perhaps agents in the field indeed have nothing to do with rates. O.K. If so, how hared is that to explain to customers? Instead, we mostly heard defensiveness and raw emotion when questioning pricing with agents. We were surprised by the rapid and at times wholesale breakdown of professionalism. We’re not kidding.
Being willing to switch companies is key. Your current insurance company will not respond well to requests for additional quotes. Nor will agents from your current company be likely to provide them.
We attempted to be polite when provided with wildly varying quotes. Rather, we were treated as though attempting to cheat an honest and forthright system. We simply comparison shopped the business and it threw individual agents into spasms. That tells us that it probably doesn’t happen a lot. It also seems to say that agents’ income depends on ignorance. As always good luck and good investing.
We started here. We like Consumer Reports. But we decided not to pay this time. The 2019 nerdwallet report used Consumer Reports & JD Power as sources. The 2020 report does not. The 2019 is no longer available. This is the 2020 nerdwattet rating.
“Best Car Insurance Companies for 2020″
Jam of the Day
“Give it Up.”