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Jonathan Handy
Jonathan HandyAssistant Professor of Finance at Western Kentucky University
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Which Companies Offer Insurance Quotes Online?

For consumers looking for cheap car insurance, starting the search online can be a great option. Most car insurance companies provide free quotes online and even have online payment options so that you can sign up for a new policy at your convenience. You can quickly get reliable quotes from many insurance companies online, helping you weigh your options. Comparing quotes can help ensure that you get the best rate, whether you’re looking for a policy right away or wanting to plan for the future.

Key Takeaways

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The coverages you need may not be the same as the minimum requirements.

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Online quote tools are useful for conducting your initial research when looking for a new insurer right away or planning for the future.

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Your best and cheapest options will vary depending on factors such as age, location and driving history.

How to Find Cheap Car Insurance Quotes Online

Car insurance rates will vary depending on a wide variety of factors, such as location, driver age (for example, teen drivers tend to be more expensive to insure), vehicle type and driving history. So what’s “cheap” for one person may not be for another. That’s why casting a wide net when getting quotes is so important.

There are several ways to get online insurance quotes. You can use comparison tools, like those provided by MoneyGeek to get quotes in your area, or you can use a specific car insurance company's website to get a quote. Not only can you compare quotes from different companies, but you can also compare rates for different types and ranges of coverage. For instance, you can compare the cost of minimum liability coverage with the price of comprehensive and collision insurance to see how much more it will cost to have more protection.

You’ll also want to look at the coverage included, payment schedule and deductible to compare quotes and find the best one for you. Comparing these offerings can help you find the most affordable option that provides the level of your needs.

Insurance Rates

Compare Auto Insurance Rates

Ensure you are getting the best rate for your car insurance. Compare quotes from the top insurance companies.

What Is an Online Quote?

An online car insurance quote is like a peek behind the curtain. It allows you to see what kind of premium you might get for a certain amount of coverage.

A quote is not necessarily a promise, however, and things can change. For example, if information not included in the screening questions surfaces later (a ticket or DUI, for example), the rate could increase or decrease. However, for the average driver, a quote is a solid jumping-off point for what to expect from that company. What's important is that you’re gathering information and considering your options.

Cheapest Online Car Insurance Companies for 2020

When searching for online car insurance quotes, knowing the most affordable companies overall and having a sense of the average cost of car insurance can help you narrow down your options. Car insurance quotes vary based on your location, driving record, vehicle type and other factors, so getting a collection of unique quotes can help you find the best rates for you. On average, companies provide the most affordable rates for 100/300/100 comprehensive collision coverage.

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Company
Amountper year
1. GEICO
In 2020, GEICO ranked #1 in US for the cheapest car insurance for the average driver.
$1,047
2. State Farm
In 2020, State Farm ranked #2 in US for the cheapest car insurance for the average driver.
$1,235
3. Nationwide
In 2020, Nationwide ranked #3 in US for the cheapest car insurance for the average driver.
$1,341
4. Allstate
In 2020, Allstate ranked #4 in US for the cheapest car insurance for the average driver.
$1,351
5. Progressive
In 2020, Progressive ranked #5 in US for the cheapest car insurance for the average driver.
$1,381
6. Travelers
In 2020, Travelers ranked #6 in US for the cheapest car insurance for the average driver.
$1,525
7. Farmers
In 2020, Farmers ranked #7 in US for the cheapest car insurance for the average driver.
$1,578
8. MetLife
In 2020, MetLife ranked #8 in US for the cheapest car insurance for the average driver.
$1,686

How To Get Cheaper Rates in an Online Quote

You can find several ways to get cheaper rates in an online quote. Start with comparing auto insurance quotes from several providers. You can also look at your credit score and driving records since they can impact your rates. If they are on the low end, try improving your credit score and driving records. Some providers may offer discounts for clean records.

Another way to lower your rate is to drive a less expensive car. You can also decrease coverage for older cars and ask for discounts. You may be eligible for discounts other than having a clean driving record. Some discounts include a low mileage discount if you tend to carpool to destinations, or purchasing your auto insurance with the same insurer as your homeowners insurance.

FAQ: Online Auto Insurance Quotes

Getting your car insured is essential, but it’s also not always the most straightforward process. Here are some commonly asked questions about getting cheap car insurance quotes online to help you understand the process.


What do online car insurance quotes include?This is an icon

It can vary depending on how you request a quote. For example, you can use a quote tool that pulls quotes from different insurers. Or you could go through an insurance company’s own quote tool, which will generally give you various options to compare from that company. In general, an online car insurance quote includes your potential premium — which can be charged annually, semi-annually or monthly — for a given set of coverages.

Are car insurance quotes online accurate?This is an icon

In general, the more accurate the information you provide, the more accurate the quote will be. When you get car insurance quotes online, they may not be the exact figures you’d get from that insurer. But they do provide a good ballpark estimate. So, they are still useful tools when shopping for cheap car insurance online.

How can I get car insurance quotes online?This is an icon

You can go directly through a specific car insurance company to see your potential options from that company only, or you can use a tool that gathers quotes from many insurance companies. The latter is generally more useful for those who are just beginning their search.

Are online car insurance quotes free?This is an icon

Yes. You should never have to pay for a quote from a car insurance company. If a company tries to charge for one, you are not dealing with a reputable insurer.

What are the pros and cons of an online quote?This is an icon

The biggest “pro” for online quotes is that they allow you to understand your options when it comes to car insurance — which can otherwise feel difficult to understand. It’s also a convenient way to shop for insurance, and you can see what different coverages could cost. For example, you may wish to increase the deductible to save on your premium. According to the Insurance Information Institute, raising a deductible from $200 to $500 could save between 15% and 30%.

Keep in mind that while it can save you money in the short term, you should make sure that you can still afford the deductible if something happens, like an accident that requires you to use your insurance. This will ensure that your insurance is still useful while being affordable.

On the flip side, getting car insurance quotes online won’t allow you to ask questions as you would be able to by going directly to an agent. Research will be required beforehand to ensure you're getting enough coverage, given your circumstances. You may still have to contact an agent or insurance company directly to secure your policy.

How to Buy Car Insurance Online

  1. Understand what coverages you need.
    As long as you provide information about where you live, an online quote should include the minimum required coverages. Some shoppers will want additional options, like roadside assistance or higher coverage amounts, depending on their situation. Understanding what you need is critical to getting accurate quotes and getting car insurance fast.
  2. Gather online quotes from several insurers.
    Insurance options can vary depending on where you live, so the best way to see which one will be the least expensive given your desired coverages is to get as many car insurance quotes online as you can. An online quote tool comes in handy here, especially one that gathers quotes from several companies at once. You won’t have to worry about looking into companies that may not even offer insurance where you live.
  3. Weigh your options and select the best one for you.
    Once you have those quotes handy, you can compare the prices and coverage options. Make sure to consider the payment schedule. Some insurance companies may offer an annual estimate that includes a related discount, while others may give you a monthly payment estimate. By breaking things down into comparable buckets, you can more easily figure out the best car insurance option for you. You should also look into the companies to make sure that the ones you’re considering meet your other needs. For example, if you value in-person customer service, having a knowledgeable agent might be a good idea. If you want to access your coverage information or make claims on the go, tech offerings like a mobile app may be more important to you.
  4. Contact the company (likely your local agent) and get your vehicle insured.
    Once you’ve picked your best option, you can contact the company to begin the process and get your policy in place.

Find Online Rates in Your State

Location is another factor that impacts auto insurance rates. Depending on where you live, rates can increase based on the likelihood of an accident or potential auto thefts in the area. You can find the best rates in your state below.

Which Online Car Insurance Companies Offer the Cheapest Rates in Your State?

Read More on Auto Insurance

Expert Advice on Online Car Insurance Quotes

  1. How can consumers safely shop for car insurance online?

    Many industries have been disrupted by online competitors. The auto insurance industry is no exception. Most auto insurance companies have moved some of their activities online. In addition, like banks, some auto insurance companies are now totally online, or digital. However, unlike online banks, regulations for the insurance industry might not be as comprehensive and can vary significantly state by state. As a result, consumers must do more research when considering totally online or digital auto insurance companies. The reputation and service quality of a company can be found online. Many respected companies provide information on auto insurance companies. Consumers can also use the power of social media to quickly disseminate information about poor service and unethical practices of companies. Doing an Internet search is essential when shopping for auto insurance, especially totally online or digital ones. While totally online or digital companies might not have offices, they still have employees (although the bots do seem to be taking over.) When obtaining a detailed premium quote and finalizing an auto insurance policy agreement, it is imperative that consumers talk to a real person. The person can explain terminology and coverage options and ensure that paperwork is completed properly. This is true for all auto insurance companies. Unfortunately, some companies in the auto insurance industry have developed a reputation for using Application Fraud, as a way to deny claims. Unscrupulous insurers have used complicated online application processes, with multiple signature and initial entries, to confuse consumers into signing away their protections. Completing the application process during a live session is the best way to avoid this.

    Buying car insurance online requires many of the same precautions you take when purchasing anything over the internet. Be aware that there are scam websites that exist, which appear to be legitimate online sellers. Since online quotes require an array of personal information, including your social security number, becoming a victim of identity theft or credit card fraud is a possibility. Thankfully, you can follow some simple steps if you decide you want to shop for car insurance online. First, only visit sites of well-respected and established car insurance companies. You can find lists of well-known sellers by using sites like MoneyGeek.com or JDPower.com. These sites also provide rankings of overall customer satisfaction that can help in the insurance buying process. Be aware that filling out online quotes for auto insurance usually requires you to provide your contact information, so do not be surprised if you begin receiving phone calls from carriers attempting to convince you to buy from them. Be cautious not to share any personal information over the phone if you unexpectedly receive one of these cold calls; instead, offer to call them back at an official number you find on their site. Finally, it is important to understand that these companies can offer you a wide variety of premiums based on different levels of coverage and deductible amounts. To be sure you are fully informed when picking a new policy, I suggest you have your most recent car insurance card on hand so you can quickly compare the offers to your current coverage levels.

    First, shoppers need to be careful when buying insurance online, just like they would be when purchasing any other product. Insurance is no different. You do not want to provide sensitive personal information (e.g., credit card or social security number) to a fraudulent website. A good way to begin shopping for car insurance is to google the National Association of Insurance Commissioners State Web Map. On their website, shoppers can select the state they live in and they will be directed to their state insurance department website. The state websites vary significantly from state to state. However, you can find secure and accurate information regarding car insurance providers.

    When you select an insurance company online, make sure the URL matches the name of the insurance company. Also, be sure the company is a reputable, well-known company. Before submitting sensitive private information to get an insurance quote, be sure to check the security policy of the insurance company. Also, change the settings on your browser to notify you when you leave a secure connection.

    a). Go to a trusted website. Do a pre-search on the National Association of Insurance Commissioners State web app and find insurance companies that are licensed in your state. You may also visit your State Insurance Department's website. Auto insurance is regulated on a state-by-state basis. Your state's insurance department usually has relevant information in the consumer information section of its website.

    b). Most insurance companies will allow customers to get a quote online and they can get the added benefit of adjusting the policy to their prepared ways. In this case, make sure you are going through a reputable insurance company.

    c). Bring a sense of security. Prepare all your information up front and don't give any personal information before you get the quote.

    d). Do not automatically accept the cheapest quote. It could be a lesser company or not particularly good coverage.

    When consumers shop for car insurance online, I think it is important to inquire about different companies’ services and their contact information on their actual websites. It can be risky to simply click on the first search hits because those are often advertisements, and many times those are ads of fake companies and fraudsters. I think it is much safer to avoid those ad results, and instead inquire about and contact the companies that appear after the ads. Also, I think it is important to call the insurance company and make sure that you find the right policy for you rather than just relying on a standard policy that you may not know the ins and outs of.

    Auto insurance is the same across insurers. Everyone sells substantially the same policy, though some insurers have added a few bells and whistles to their products to make them stand out. What you must research and try to make a decision on are price and service. The cheapest price is not always commensurate with the best service, and consumers need to understand that.

    When possible, make sure that the coverage you buy is linked back to an actual agent. You will want that liaison between you and the insurer. If you don’t get an agent you are comfortable with, find one you do like and tell the insurer you want to switch.

    I believe one of the best ways to shop for anything service-based like insurance is to ask your friends and family who they use and what their experience has been. Does the agent return calls promptly? Does the insurer adjust claims fairly?

    Claims is where the rubber meets the road in insurance. It is particularly important to ask about claims service. I am helping a friend right now who suffered very serious damage to her home during the derecho in Iowa this year. The run around she is getting from a supposedly reputable, national, well-known carrier is appalling. In a perfect world, you’d hear her story before making a decision about who to buy insurance from!

    Insurance is a very heavily regulated industry. As long as you are looking to purchase auto insurance from a reputable insurance company like State Farm, GEICO, Allstate, or Progressive, you'll be "in good hands". You should also feel very secure shopping online for auto insurance quotes if you use one of the major rate-comparison sites because they only offer quotes from reputable insurance companies.

    The internet has made is easier than ever to obtain car insurance, but also easier for fraudsters to obtain your information. Since car insurance information involves exchanging a lot of sensitive information, before you give anyone information on the internet be sure to do research, research, research! For example, always verify that the website is valid. Watch for fake URLs and car insurance companies you haven’t heard of that offer suspiciously low rates. Look for reviews, feedback, and other information about the provider first. The largest car insurance providers have clearly defined security policies and allow you to transmit information online in a safe manner, but always be careful.

    Shopping for car insurance online has become an everyday occurrence, but that doesn’t mean it is always safe. Make sure you are purchasing insurance from a reputable company and directly on their website. If you choose an insurance company that is widely known, you are probably fine. But if it is a company that is only regional or state-wide, that is less known, do your homework by looking at a company’s Better Business Bureau rating to see if they have had a lot of complaints in the past.

    It may be best to go directly to a few insurance company websites rather than aggregators. With an aggregator, you will most likely receive a significant number of solicitations (phone and email), many from companies you have never heard of prior to your inquiry. In addition, it can be overwhelming and it is better if you are in control of the process. Do your homework beforehand and then contact a short list of companies you prefer based on their reputation, ratings and financial strength.

    I would recommend making sure to only purchase car insurance from reputable providers. If one has never heard of a certain insurance provider, then there is likely a reason. Competition amongst the largest providers is so fierce that I doubt there is a tremendous benefit associated with choosing an unknown. If one does decide to choose a lesser known company, use resources like MoneyGeek or other personal finance websites to find information out about the company first. If providing personal information online bothers someone, then they should simply call the company using the provided sales number.

    By and large shopping for car insurance online is safe. Nevertheless, one should always be cautious as we provide a lot of personal information, including our social security number. It starts with using a secure website. If a URL starts with “https” then the website has a security partner. Secure sites may also have a closed padlock next to their URL. By avoiding obscure and using more popular companies, we may further increase our sense of security while shopping online.

    Most people prefer to buy auto insurance in-person through a licensed agent; however, buying car insurance online becomes more and more popular. YouGov (2020) surveyed 1,292 Americans who own different types of motor vehicles and found that 36% of adults who own a car don’t compare rates or shop around at all. To safely shop for car insurance online, first, I would suggest getting all the relevant information ready before purchasing online. For example, your car's make, model, year, license plate number, vehicle identification number (VIN), the zip code of where you live. Second, check your state auto insurance requirement and compare premiums. The cost of the same policy can vary widely between companies. You may use an auto insurance comparison website where you can find various quotes from different companies. You can also try searching websites directly from Progressive, Allstate, or Geico, where you can get quotes immediately through email or phone calls. The bottom line is that you should compare at least three different quotes from different insurers. Third, auto insurance is regulated on a state-by-state basis, and your state's insurance department usually has profiles of the different insurance companies licensed within the state. You can find consumers’ complaints by visiting your state insurance department's web site, or visit ConsumerReports.org or JDPower.com. Finally, don't go with the insurance just because it is cheap. Make sure the policy has the coverage of your auto insurance need.

    When shopping online for any product or service, the consumer must always take certain precautions. Most importantly, they should only shop from secure websites. It would also be prudent to take additional security measures such as employing anti-malware services to ensure their data is safe.

    Most big established insurers address the safety of doing business with them online on their webpages. You want to look for information about their websites using data-encryption systems to handle your personal data. You will also find sections on their websites exclusively dedicated to explaining how they use and store your personal information. However, if the company you are looking into is a regional or local company, and it's not clear from their website if and how they make sure your data is protected, you can still take a couple of precautions should you decide to do business with them: using a credit card with identity theft protection or a low-balance debit card purposely opened and used to pay utilities.

    There are mainly two methods to shop for insurance online. Go to national companies' websites and get different quotes for the same level of protection or use the help of an insurance broker /small insurance firm that specializes in certain types of customers. Going to a national company like Geico, Progressive, Allstate, State Farm or similar requires customers to be knowledgeable about the different types of protection such companies offer. Before making a decision, customers should get familiar with insurance terms like deductible, comprehensive, property liability, injury liability, uninsured motorist, roadside assistance, and rental reimbursement. When comparing quotes from different companies, it is important to use same levels of protection/coverage because recommended (default) levels of protection differ among companies and when we look for the cheapest quote we want to compare apples to apples.

    Brokers and small/regional companies are very useful for customers with special needs. For example, first time buyers, young drivers, no license, suspended license, licenses from other countries. Brokers can find companies that cater to those needs and/or offer protection by themselves.

    Since companies, in order to generate a quote, will require some private information to access credit history, driving records etc., it is recommended to limit the research to 2 or 3 reputable companies. You don’t want to give your info to just any company that appears on the search engine results. When deciding where to get a first quote, it is a good practice to ask relatives, friends and/or coworkers what insurance companies they use and whether they are happy with price and service. It is important to start in a “trusted” place and not to rely on the results of a search engine as the first results are normally paid advertisements. It is preferable to get two quotes based on someone’s experience before deciding.

  2. How has online car insurance shopping changed the insurance landscape for both companies and consumers?

    The emergence of online auto insurance shopping has resulted in greater transparency; not just in premium amounts, but in the factors that go into the setting of those premiums. In addition, the ease of online shopping allows consumers to routinely compare their options. This pressures all auto insurance companies to be more competitive, not just in pricing but in service and reputation as well. As a result, consumers now know they can make changes that allow them to lower their premiums. In a way, now they are really in the driver’s seat, when it comes to auto insurance.

    The ability to shop online has vastly expanded the options consumers have when shopping for car insurance. You are no longer restricted to buying car insurance from companies that have offices in your area. You can now shop from dozens of companies offering a variety of services and premiums. The ability to comparison shop is particularly important since new state regulations and adverse weather events have caused insurance premiums to rise over the last decade. While having a large variety of insurers to choose from is beneficial on many levels, it can make choosing the right insurance company for your needs difficult. It can also make it challenging to determine which companies are legitimate, stable, and well-liked by their customers.

    On a positive note for consumers, online competition has forced insurance companies to offer a wider range of incentives and rewards to attract customers. These incentives include benefits such as accident forgiveness, which keeps premiums from rising after a single accident, and vanishing deductibles, which lowers your deductible if you maintain a safe driving record. Insurance companies also attempt to attract and retain clients by offering various discounts for actions such as safe driving, being a student, taking drivers ed courses, having an anti-theft device on your car, and loyalty rewards for being with the company over many years. One company famously goes so far as to give you quotes from their competitors when shopping for insurance on their website.

    The surprising and disappointing aspect of shopping for car insurance online is that while most firms have a strong online presence, the actual process of getting a quote has not been fully digitized. For many companies, when you fill out information for a car insurance quote online you are not automatically provided with an official quote. Instead, the online quote process becomes the starting point for a phone call where a representative will collect more information and then provide you with the actual quote. Each of these phone calls should take 15 minutes or less, as one company correctly explains in its ads, but if you are getting multiple quotes, this time can quickly add up. There is the option of hiring an insurance broker to obtain quotes on your behalf. This can be a good alternative if you are short on time and are careful to hire a reputable broker.

    First, online shopping has made the car insurance market more competitive. As a result, companies should offer better premiums and more competitive products overall (better coverages). Second, it has reduced the cost of searching for competitively priced insurance policies. Consumers do not have to spend a lot of time comparing insurance quotes; they can get various quotes rather quickly via the internet. Various insurance aggregator websites are useful for consumers and can provide you with quotes very quickly. Third, consumers are going directly to the insurance company, therefore bypassing the middleman (the insurance agent). This should help lower the cost of insurance premiums.

    a). Insurance company: Shopping online has changed insurance companies in the way they reach new clients. More and more insurance customers are shopping around online and identifying the best coverage at the best price. Companies have been forced to adjust their marketing strategy to bring in those new clients that are shopping online. Now COVID-19 has made more insurance buyers move online. This migration from in-person agents to online affect the commission-based compensation system for in-person agents.

    b). Consumer: The landscape has changed in favor of the consumer by giving them more freedom when it comes to selecting a provider. Online insurance allows customers to customize their insurance for what fits their needs. They can get premium discounts based on their driving behaviors. It also lets the consumer shop around and not be locked into one agent with one company. Since in-person agents rely on commissions, they may be motivated to sell as much as they can instead of helping the customer with the most fitting plan, making the consumer pay more than he is supposed to.

    It’s definitely making it more of a commodity, which is unfortunate. Every insurer sells the same product; what you have to look at to differentiate one from another is price and service. I cannot emphasize this enough—the cheapest price is not always the best choice! You want an insurer that will be there for you after a loss. And I fear that selling insurance online is making people forget about the service piece of the equation. It is bypassing the agent, who, when properly trained, can be a highly valuable member of your personal financial planning team (along with your lawyer and your CPA). I worry that is going to cause a decline in service levels in our industry, and that is unfortunate.

    Before the Internet, it was very slow and cumbersome to call around for insurance quotes. You either had to do that yourself with a telephone or, much more commonly, trust an insurance broker to give you the best options (which she or he might have had a hard time doing because insurance brokers got paid a percentage of the policy amount, and thus were incentivized to steer you to the most expensive policies). By contrast, today with the Internet, you can get quotes directly from insurance companies and easily compare rates. Even better, the introduction of online quotes has led to intense competition that has kept a lid on auto insurance rates. If one company tries to charge you too much, you have many instantly available alternatives that you can immediately switch to.

    Prior to the internet, people could still request car insurance quotes over the phone. However, not only was this a bit more tedious, but both consumer and insurance provider had less information available to them. Now, insurance providers are deluged with data, which has in many ways, created a more dynamic insurance market than ever before. Consumers also have the ability to request quotes in seconds from a large number of insurance providers at no cost. This has made the market more competitive, but also opened the market to more advanced policies that factor in telematics, personalized information on driving habits.

    Having an online presence is very beneficial for consumers. Consumers can purchase insurance from a company easily without having to have a local agent. This can cut some costs for consumers. Insurance companies are now able to compete for customers they may not have been able to access in the past.

    The internet has made the insurance industry much more competitive. In the past, it was difficult to switch insurance companies given the amount of time it took to research the companies, see who is in the area and then contact an agent for information. Now, most of the information is online and the large companies can sell in almost any state.

    Technological advancements have affected car insurance shopping just as it has affected all online shopping. Consumers have been empowered, and they can shop easily and faster than ever before and cast a wider net when doing comparison shopping. The cost savings to insurance companies in the direct consumer to company shopping can be passed on to the consumers as well.

    First, it has made it easier and swifter for shoppers to compare a wide array of companies, terms and insurance products in terms of any criteria that may be important: premiums, coverage, deductibles, etc. Second, it has brought more competition to the industry's incumbents, and thus, they have needed to respond to savvier consumers with more discounts and promotions as well as more innovative products. And finally, it has empowered shoppers with the knowledge of how their personal circumstances (age, type of car, model, credit score, etc.) and their driving behavior (mileage, driving experience, past accidents, etc.) can determine the likelihood to get better deals on insurance products.

    In the past, insurance companies had to have small local offices with employees to serve customers. Then those offices were replaced by a central office with customer representatives answering 1-800 numbers. While those two methods still exist, the growth of online shopping is tremendous. Now, millions of customers are comfortable handling their money matters through online banking, online investing or person-to-person payment. The purchase of insurance online was a natural extension of the movement from brick and mortar to ecommerce. With this massive move to online services, competition has increased substantially. All major companies now offer free quotes where you don’t need to see or talk to any human being. Some websites/companies offer to get you several quotes at the same time. Also, hundreds of small companies and insurance brokers now offer online services catering to a special segment of the market. Since getting the quotes is easy, competition based on price has intensified. Users on a tight budget have benefited substantially because they can easily find a low quote from several competitors and go with the cheapest option. This has also forced companies to get creative to attract/retain customers with higher income, where they will be able to offer different levels of protection at higher premiums. To differentiate themselves, large companies rely on special services, special discounts or customer service. While price is an important factor in the decision, it is also important to know how different companies handle your claims. Do they have representatives available 24 hours a day? Do they allow you to repair your vehicle anywhere or do they ask you to use their authorized shops? Do they pay for new parts or do they ask you to use second-hand parts? Do they offer a discount for good driving? Can you bundle with your home insurance and get a discount? Those are key questions that you may want to ask your friend, relative, or coworker before you start shopping around.

  3. Are there any disadvantages to being insured by a company that is only online?

    Selecting auto insurance is difficult. Consumers cannot be expected to understand the complexities of auto insurance. It is impossible to know all the factors that might have an impact on premiums and claims. The best choices are made when consumers have an established relationship with knowledgeable individuals who have a financial as well as an ethical incentive to serve them. Insurance agents can fill this role. Programmers developing online systems and the underlying algorithms might not be able to provide the same level of service. When a problem arises, it is more reassuring if there is an office to visit or a specific person to contact. Everyone has experienced the stress of dealing with illogical voice routing systems. Doing this while waiting for a tow truck or an emergency room doctor can be even worse. When a company does not have a physical presence in a state, it can complicate any legal actions that might be required. However, being able to walk into an office does not make the process risk free. Perhaps the emergence of totally online or digital auto insurance companies and other online shopping options will result in more informed consumers who actively manage their policy choices. As always, knowledge is power.

    The biggest drawback to choosing an online only car insurance company is not being able to speak face-to-face with an agent. The claim process can be complex, and consumers may become frustrated trying to navigate this process over the phone with a customer service representative. Surveys by Gallop and JDPower.com have shown that while more and more people are willing to comparison shop online for auto insurance, over two-thirds of people still opt to make their final purchase from an agent. People often prefer the comfort of dealing with an actual person when they are forced to file a claim on their insurance. They like the idea of having a specific person they can meet with to address concerns about their policies or insurance claims.

    If you are comfortable with not having an agent, then a fully digital insurance carrier could work for you. The only remaining problem is that this field is not well developed at the moment. There are only a handful of well-established fully digital auto insurance companies that usually only offer coverage in a specific subset of states. Even then, some of the most well-known companies tend to offer niche products to consumers rather than a standard insurance policy. Root, for example, uses an app on your phone to evaluate your driving behavior directly and gives you a quote based on their findings. Another, Metromile, advertises as a Pay Per Mile car insurance company that can save low-mileage drivers money over standard carriers. Since many of these digital-only auto insurance companies are not as widely known, it becomes even more important to carefully check the reputation and customer satisfaction of each company you are considering.

    a). The lack of customer help: Usually, if people need to add a vehicle to the insurance or buy a new car and adjust premiums, they can just go to their local brick and mortar insurance agency and get them to adjust it. If the company is online, those tasks will be left up to the clients to handle, or they will have to call the generic help number to get it done.

    b). Possible poor service: Whenever an accident occurs, the claiming process may be much faster with the interaction of an actual agent. Even though car insurance mobile apps are well known for being user-friendly, sometimes the consumer’s circumstances might need more assistance, and interaction with an actual agent is needed. For online insurance companies, it is important to mention that once the customer has acquired auto insurance online, customer service is always available on their mobile apps.

    There could be a few disadvantages associated with such companies. For one, given the data that they ask you to enter to get a quote, there could be scammers that sell your information to third parties or try to commit identity theft. Second, purchasing car insurance is a very important and sometimes stressful decision, so it may make it more challenging for some consumers to not be able to go to an office and speak to someone in-person about their options. This also applies after they purchase the insurance, as some consumers may want to have someone walk-through their situation with them in-person after an accident, for example.

    Whether it’s a traditional brick and mortar insurance company or an online-only provider, there will always be positive and negative characteristics about each one. In online-only insurance providers, these firms often receive high marks for their convenience and their apps’ ease of use. On the other hand, consumers might find websites confusing or have questions they might only feel like answering in person. The customer service experience often varies; many people still prefer face-to-face interaction that can happen only at a branch office. If you’re comfortable talking to your agent online or over the phone, online providers can be a great fit. It’s entirely up to your consumer preferences.

    Some consumers really like having a local person they know and trust to help them with their insurance needs. That’s okay, it is important that consumers are able to have their needs met. These consumers will just choose not to obtain coverage from these companies.

    Yes, this gets back to the service end of the relationship. Most don't think about that part until it is needed (ie: you are in an accident). The risk is that without a physical presence in the area, a claim may take longer to process than a company that has offices in your location.

    Technological advancements have affected car insurance shopping just as it has affected all online shopping. Consumers have been empowered, and they can shop easily and faster than ever before and cast a wider net when doing comparison shopping. The cost savings to insurance companies in the direct consumer to company shopping can be passed on to the consumers as well.

    The ability to secure products and services online clearly has many benefits (e.g., convenience, no sales pressure, flexibility, etc.). Regarding purchasing car insurance online, the consumer benefits from being able to readily compare quotes, service terms and benefits without the pressure of a sales agent.

    However, there are disadvantages and risks the consumer must recognize. The customer must also do their homework to ensure that the company is a bona fide agent by checking sources such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB). There is also the risk that the customer may not know exactly what they are getting (there are clear benefits for face to face contact with a sales agent with an intangible service such as car insurance). There is also the risk that they may spend too much time online, as the customer may get caught up finding the best price or terms and get lost in the process by overthinking and end up doing nothing. At the end of the day, the online customer has to ensure the company is legitimate, well established, well respected (e.g., positive customer reviews) and ensure their customer data is secure and protected.


  • Elaine Luther
    Elaine LutherBusiness Management Professor at Point Park University
    Dr. Mark Scanlan
    Dr. Mark ScanlanProfessor of Economics at Stephen F. Austin State University
    Dr. Daniel Perez Liston
    Dr. Daniel Perez ListonAssociate Professor of Finance at the University of St. Thomas-Houston
    Dr. Hwan Shin
    Dr. Hwan ShinAssociate Professor of Finance at The University of Texas at Tyler
    Frank G. Cabano
    Frank G. CabanoAssistant Professor, Marketing and Management at The University of Texas at El Paso
    Dr. Brenda Wells
    Dr. Brenda WellsRobert F. Bird Distinguished Professor of Risk and Insurance at East Carolina University; Director, Risk Management and Insurance Program
  • Sean Flynn
    Sean FlynnChairman of the Economics Department at Scripps College
    Reilly White
    Reilly WhiteAssociate Professor of Finance at the University of New Mexico
    Carrie L. Johnson
    Carrie L. JohnsonAssociate Professor and Extension Specialist at North Dakota State University
    Steven Gattuso
    Steven GattusoAssistant Professor of Economics & Finance at Canisius College
    Jonathan Handy
    Jonathan HandyAssistant Professor of Finance at Western Kentucky University
    Amit Sinha
    Amit SinhaProfessor of Finance and Quantitative Methods at Bradley University
  • Yongli Luo
    Yongli LuoAssociate Professor of Finance at Houston Baptist University
    Genevieve O'Connor
    Genevieve O'ConnorAssociate Professor of Marketing at the Gabelli School of Business, Fordham University
    Mario Gonzalez-Fuentes
    Mario Gonzalez-FuentesAssociate Professor of Marketing at Trinity University
    Xavier Garza-Gomez
    Xavier Garza-GomezProfessor of Finance at the University of Houston-Victoria
  • Elaine Luther
    Elaine LutherBusiness Management Professor at Point Park University
    Dr. Mark Scanlan
    Dr. Mark ScanlanProfessor of Economics at Stephen F. Austin State University
    Dr. Daniel Perez Liston
    Dr. Daniel Perez ListonAssociate Professor of Finance at the University of St. Thomas-Houston
    Dr. Hwan Shin
    Dr. Hwan ShinAssociate Professor of Finance at The University of Texas at Tyler
    Frank G. Cabano
    Frank G. CabanoAssistant Professor, Marketing and Management at The University of Texas at El Paso
    Dr. Brenda Wells
    Dr. Brenda WellsRobert F. Bird Distinguished Professor of Risk and Insurance at East Carolina University; Director, Risk Management and Insurance Program
  • Sean Flynn
    Sean FlynnChairman of the Economics Department at Scripps College
    Reilly White
    Reilly WhiteAssociate Professor of Finance at the University of New Mexico
    Carrie L. Johnson
    Carrie L. JohnsonAssociate Professor and Extension Specialist at North Dakota State University
    Steven Gattuso
    Steven GattusoAssistant Professor of Economics & Finance at Canisius College
    Jonathan Handy
    Jonathan HandyAssistant Professor of Finance at Western Kentucky University
    Amit Sinha
    Amit SinhaProfessor of Finance and Quantitative Methods at Bradley University
  • Yongli Luo
    Yongli LuoAssociate Professor of Finance at Houston Baptist University
    Genevieve O'Connor
    Genevieve O'ConnorAssociate Professor of Marketing at the Gabelli School of Business, Fordham University
    Mario Gonzalez-Fuentes
    Mario Gonzalez-FuentesAssociate Professor of Marketing at Trinity University
    Xavier Garza-Gomez
    Xavier Garza-GomezProfessor of Finance at the University of Houston-Victoria
  • Elaine Luther
    Elaine LutherBusiness Management Professor at Point Park University
    Dr. Mark Scanlan
    Dr. Mark ScanlanProfessor of Economics at Stephen F. Austin State University
    Dr. Daniel Perez Liston
    Dr. Daniel Perez ListonAssociate Professor of Finance at the University of St. Thomas-Houston
    Dr. Hwan Shin
    Dr. Hwan ShinAssociate Professor of Finance at The University of Texas at Tyler
    Frank G. Cabano
    Frank G. CabanoAssistant Professor, Marketing and Management at The University of Texas at El Paso
    Dr. Brenda Wells
    Dr. Brenda WellsRobert F. Bird Distinguished Professor of Risk and Insurance at East Carolina University; Director, Risk Management and Insurance Program
  • Sean Flynn
    Sean FlynnChairman of the Economics Department at Scripps College
    Reilly White
    Reilly WhiteAssociate Professor of Finance at the University of New Mexico
    Carrie L. Johnson
    Carrie L. JohnsonAssociate Professor and Extension Specialist at North Dakota State University
    Steven Gattuso
    Steven GattusoAssistant Professor of Economics & Finance at Canisius College
    Jonathan Handy
    Jonathan HandyAssistant Professor of Finance at Western Kentucky University
    Amit Sinha
    Amit SinhaProfessor of Finance and Quantitative Methods at Bradley University
  • Yongli Luo
    Yongli LuoAssociate Professor of Finance at Houston Baptist University
    Genevieve O'Connor
    Genevieve O'ConnorAssociate Professor of Marketing at the Gabelli School of Business, Fordham University
    Mario Gonzalez-Fuentes
    Mario Gonzalez-FuentesAssociate Professor of Marketing at Trinity University
    Xavier Garza-Gomez
    Xavier Garza-GomezProfessor of Finance at the University of Houston-Victoria
  • Elaine Luther
    Elaine LutherBusiness Management Professor at Point Park University
    Dr. Mark Scanlan
    Dr. Mark ScanlanProfessor of Economics at Stephen F. Austin State University
    Dr. Daniel Perez Liston
    Dr. Daniel Perez ListonAssociate Professor of Finance at the University of St. Thomas-Houston
    Dr. Hwan Shin
    Dr. Hwan ShinAssociate Professor of Finance at The University of Texas at Tyler
    Frank G. Cabano
    Frank G. CabanoAssistant Professor, Marketing and Management at The University of Texas at El Paso
    Dr. Brenda Wells
    Dr. Brenda WellsRobert F. Bird Distinguished Professor of Risk and Insurance at East Carolina University; Director, Risk Management and Insurance Program
  • Sean Flynn
    Sean FlynnChairman of the Economics Department at Scripps College
    Reilly White
    Reilly WhiteAssociate Professor of Finance at the University of New Mexico
    Carrie L. Johnson
    Carrie L. JohnsonAssociate Professor and Extension Specialist at North Dakota State University
    Steven Gattuso
    Steven GattusoAssistant Professor of Economics & Finance at Canisius College
    Jonathan Handy
    Jonathan HandyAssistant Professor of Finance at Western Kentucky University
    Amit Sinha
    Amit SinhaProfessor of Finance and Quantitative Methods at Bradley University
  • Yongli Luo
    Yongli LuoAssociate Professor of Finance at Houston Baptist University
    Genevieve O'Connor
    Genevieve O'ConnorAssociate Professor of Marketing at the Gabelli School of Business, Fordham University
    Mario Gonzalez-Fuentes
    Mario Gonzalez-FuentesAssociate Professor of Marketing at Trinity University
    Xavier Garza-Gomez
    Xavier Garza-GomezProfessor of Finance at the University of Houston-Victoria
  • Elaine Luther
    Elaine LutherBusiness Management Professor at Point Park University
    Dr. Mark Scanlan
    Dr. Mark ScanlanProfessor of Economics at Stephen F. Austin State University
    Dr. Daniel Perez Liston
    Dr. Daniel Perez ListonAssociate Professor of Finance at the University of St. Thomas-Houston
    Dr. Hwan Shin
    Dr. Hwan ShinAssociate Professor of Finance at The University of Texas at Tyler
    Frank G. Cabano
    Frank G. CabanoAssistant Professor, Marketing and Management at The University of Texas at El Paso
    Dr. Brenda Wells
    Dr. Brenda WellsRobert F. Bird Distinguished Professor of Risk and Insurance at East Carolina University; Director, Risk Management and Insurance Program
  • Sean Flynn
    Sean FlynnChairman of the Economics Department at Scripps College
    Reilly White
    Reilly WhiteAssociate Professor of Finance at the University of New Mexico
    Carrie L. Johnson
    Carrie L. JohnsonAssociate Professor and Extension Specialist at North Dakota State University
    Steven Gattuso
    Steven GattusoAssistant Professor of Economics & Finance at Canisius College
    Jonathan Handy
    Jonathan HandyAssistant Professor of Finance at Western Kentucky University
    Amit Sinha
    Amit SinhaProfessor of Finance and Quantitative Methods at Bradley University
  • Yongli Luo
    Yongli LuoAssociate Professor of Finance at Houston Baptist University
    Genevieve O'Connor
    Genevieve O'ConnorAssociate Professor of Marketing at the Gabelli School of Business, Fordham University
    Mario Gonzalez-Fuentes
    Mario Gonzalez-FuentesAssociate Professor of Marketing at Trinity University
    Xavier Garza-Gomez
    Xavier Garza-GomezProfessor of Finance at the University of Houston-Victoria
  • Elaine Luther
    Elaine LutherBusiness Management Professor at Point Park University
    Dr. Mark Scanlan
    Dr. Mark ScanlanProfessor of Economics at Stephen F. Austin State University
    Dr. Daniel Perez Liston
    Dr. Daniel Perez ListonAssociate Professor of Finance at the University of St. Thomas-Houston
    Dr. Hwan Shin
    Dr. Hwan ShinAssociate Professor of Finance at The University of Texas at Tyler
    Frank G. Cabano
    Frank G. CabanoAssistant Professor, Marketing and Management at The University of Texas at El Paso
    Dr. Brenda Wells
    Dr. Brenda WellsRobert F. Bird Distinguished Professor of Risk and Insurance at East Carolina University; Director, Risk Management and Insurance Program
  • Sean Flynn
    Sean FlynnChairman of the Economics Department at Scripps College
    Reilly White
    Reilly WhiteAssociate Professor of Finance at the University of New Mexico
    Carrie L. Johnson
    Carrie L. JohnsonAssociate Professor and Extension Specialist at North Dakota State University
    Steven Gattuso
    Steven GattusoAssistant Professor of Economics & Finance at Canisius College
    Jonathan Handy
    Jonathan HandyAssistant Professor of Finance at Western Kentucky University
    Amit Sinha
    Amit SinhaProfessor of Finance and Quantitative Methods at Bradley University
  • Yongli Luo
    Yongli LuoAssociate Professor of Finance at Houston Baptist University
    Genevieve O'Connor
    Genevieve O'ConnorAssociate Professor of Marketing at the Gabelli School of Business, Fordham University
    Mario Gonzalez-Fuentes
    Mario Gonzalez-FuentesAssociate Professor of Marketing at Trinity University
    Xavier Garza-Gomez
    Xavier Garza-GomezProfessor of Finance at the University of Houston-Victoria
  • Elaine Luther
    Elaine LutherBusiness Management Professor at Point Park University
    Dr. Mark Scanlan
    Dr. Mark ScanlanProfessor of Economics at Stephen F. Austin State University
    Dr. Daniel Perez Liston
    Dr. Daniel Perez ListonAssociate Professor of Finance at the University of St. Thomas-Houston
    Dr. Hwan Shin
    Dr. Hwan ShinAssociate Professor of Finance at The University of Texas at Tyler
    Frank G. Cabano
    Frank G. CabanoAssistant Professor, Marketing and Management at The University of Texas at El Paso
    Dr. Brenda Wells
    Dr. Brenda WellsRobert F. Bird Distinguished Professor of Risk and Insurance at East Carolina University; Director, Risk Management and Insurance Program
  • Sean Flynn
    Sean FlynnChairman of the Economics Department at Scripps College
    Reilly White
    Reilly WhiteAssociate Professor of Finance at the University of New Mexico
    Carrie L. Johnson
    Carrie L. JohnsonAssociate Professor and Extension Specialist at North Dakota State University
    Steven Gattuso
    Steven GattusoAssistant Professor of Economics & Finance at Canisius College
    Jonathan Handy
    Jonathan HandyAssistant Professor of Finance at Western Kentucky University
    Amit Sinha
    Amit SinhaProfessor of Finance and Quantitative Methods at Bradley University
  • Yongli Luo
    Yongli LuoAssociate Professor of Finance at Houston Baptist University
    Genevieve O'Connor
    Genevieve O'ConnorAssociate Professor of Marketing at the Gabelli School of Business, Fordham University
    Mario Gonzalez-Fuentes
    Mario Gonzalez-FuentesAssociate Professor of Marketing at Trinity University
    Xavier Garza-Gomez
    Xavier Garza-GomezProfessor of Finance at the University of Houston-Victoria

About the Author


Devon Delfino is an independent journalist based in the Pacific Northwest. Her personal-finance coverage has been featured in publications such as the L.A. Times, Teen Vogue, Mashable, MarketWatch, CNBC and USA Today, among others.

Sources