Last month I had the chance to meet some folks from insurance.com. I found out that the company is based in Ohio (go Buckeyes!) so it must be a first rate organization. Anyway, as I mentioned a while ago, Nationwide recently jacked up my auto insurance rates. I’ve been a customer of Nationwide for more than 25 years, and while I know the cost of everything goes up, the increase was a bit startlingly. So I decided to compare auto insurance rates to see what was out there. I started with insurance.com, and thought I’d share my experience.
Overall the process was hassle free and took less than 10 minutes. There were one or two hiccups, which I’ll tell you about below. The good news is that all four quotes I received were lower than Nationwide. And these quotes were from well known auto insurance companies like Progressive and First Hartford.
This review is very detailed, with screen shots of the process and a look at the final quotes I received. I wanted to give you as much detail as possible, but feel free to skip to the sections that are of most interest to you. Let’s start with a list of the information you’ll need to get started.
Information You’ll Need to Compare Auto Insurance
Over the course of about 10 screens, you’ll need to have the following information available:
- Personal Information: You’ll need your personal information including name, address, e-mail address, and date of birth.
- Social Security Number: While this may surprise you, your social security number is also required. Insurance companies assess risk in part based on your credit history and what’s called a Credit Bureau Score. The good news is that from everything I’ve read, it’s a soft pull on your credit file, so it shouldn’t affect your FICO credit score.
- Car Details: Auto rates are based in part on the car you drive, so insurance.com will require this information. If you have the VIN number handy, you can use that. If you don’t, that’s ok. You’ll need to enter the year, make and model number of each car you want to insure.
- Education/Career: You’ll need to provide information on the highest level of education you’ve obtained and what you do for a living.
- Current Insurance: Insurance.com asks about your current coverage, including how long you’ve been with your current car insurance carrier. You’ll want this information anyway so that the quotes you receive are for insurance similar to what you already have.
- Desired Coverage: As noted above, comparing your existing coverage with the auto insurance quotes you’ll receive requires you to select the same coverage you already have. You don’t have to purchase the same coverage, but it’s a good way to compare premiums. You can always change your selections when you decide what insurance you want to buy.
- Driving Habits: You will need to include information on how much you drive the car, whether it’s for work or school, any driving violations in the past five years, and any auto insurance claims in the past five years.
Getting Started with Insurance.com
Once you have the information you need, the first step is to enter some pretty basic personal information. It’s basically what you’d expect, and here’s a screen shot of the page:
One thing to note is the request for your e-mail address and data of birth. Of course, your age is key factor in the auto insurance underwriting process, so no surprise there. But what I didn’t know until I complete the quote process was that insurance.com will save your information for you using your e-mail address and date of birth. There was actually a glitch in this process which I’ll explain at the end, but it does save the quotes you get and the information you enter. This is a great feature, particularly if you want to come back later to review the quotes or change any information you entered.
The next step is to enter information about the cars or vehicles you want to insure. I was initially stumped here because they ask for your VIN number, or Vehicle Identification Number. It’s easy enough to get this information; its in the dash of your vehicle and maybe on your registration, too. I just didn’t want to have to go through the hassle of getting the VIN. It turns out, you don’t have to.
If you don’t want to get your VIN, you can just enter the year, make and model of your car. Insurance.com will ask for additional information, such as who the primary driver is if you have more than just yourself on the policy, the primary use of the car (e.g., commuting to work), how many miles you drive one way to work or school, and how many miles you put on the vehicle each year. Here are some screen shots to give you an idea of what to expect:
Education, Occupation and Social Security Number
As you’ll see in the image below, insurance.com will also ask you for your education level, occupation and social security number. Why? Insurance companies use this information in their underwriting process to assess an individual’s risk. As we’ve written before, your credit score will affect auto insurance premiums, which is why they need your social security number (to pull your credit file). Study after study has proven that these factors do correlate to risk.
Driving History & Current Coverage
Obviously your driving record is an important part of the setting auto insurance rates. As you’ll see in the screens below, you’ll need to include information on any driving violations or auto insurance claims over the past five years. I’ve had one speeding ticket and had to provide information on the date of the ticket, the violation, and for speeding, how fast over the limit I was going (51 in a 35, if you must know).
Insurance.com also requires information on your current auto coverage if you have insurance. I’m not really sure what the purpose of this is, although I suspect that if you’ve been with the same auto insurance company for a number of years, you are considered less of a risk.
Finally, you of course have to indicate the type of auto coverages you want and the amounts. This can always be changed later, so don’t worry about make the “wrong” choices. My suggestion is to select the same coverages you have now so you can compare the quotes you receive with your current insurance policy.
Online Chat Help Available
Before I show you the quotes I received, it’s worth pointing out that online help is available. While I was completing the screens, the box to the left appeared. While I didn’t need any help, it’s nice to know that I could have talked with an insurance.com representative if I had any questions.
My Auto Insurance Quotes
So now for the quotes. I currently pay about $1,400 a year for Nationwide. With that in mind, here are the auto quotes I received from insurance.com (click the image to enlarge it):
Not too shabby. But my work is not done. I want to investigate this information more and reach out to one or two of the insurance companies. I also plan to share this information with my Nationwide insurance broker. Maybe I’ll get my current rates lowered without changing insurance companies. And finally, it’s important to consider any discounts you can get. I do get discounts from Nationwide because I have several policies with them, although it’s obviously not enough to be competitive with the quotes I received from insurance.com.
If you’d like to give it a try, visit insurance.com and let us know if the quotes you received beat what you are currently paying for auto insurance.
Published or updated September 26, 2010.