Insurance Academy

Last Minute Insurance Shopping Woes

By | July 24, 2019

People leave things to the last minute.

In college, the papers got written at the last minute.

On Monday, people get up at the last minute.

Insurance buying happens at the last minute.

I believe that’s one of the reasons that online insurance buying is so popular. A person can get online, it takes 15 minutes (or less), you can get a quote and buy right on your mobile device, and you’re done. It’s even quicker today because auto insurers will look for vehicles that are registered to you, or that you’ve bought insurance on before, so you don’t even have to look up VINs anymore.

The problem is that some of these online buying experiences like to leave some things until the last minute, too. The final price.

Not only can you not find out exactly what is covered online, but they hold onto you during the entire quote process until the very last step. That’s when the actual price shows up. For example, a friend of mine was quoting their insurance online through a nationally known company (no, not that one; the one with the pricing tool).

They went through the whole process, choosing coverage limits, verifying lienholders, etc. Then they clicked the buy now button. That’s when a placeholder screen came up “updating your quote”. The price went up (without explanation) by over $100/month for the six-month policy.

I know that I don’t advocate buying on price, but when you’re in the middle of a deal and suddenly, and without explanation, the price increases by over 60%, that’s an issue. It’s especially troubling when the name your price people sell on price. It’s really difficult to handle when the price didn’t change that much during the quote process.

It seems to me that the whole system is set up to draw customers down the sales funnel to their most likely point of no return. It seems like they are hoping that once the customer gets there, they just keep going. It doesn’t seem like there is any place in the process that indicates that the quote may change. The site doesn’t indicate that the initial price is likely to change.

Let this be a warning.

Online may be fast and easy today, but they are not always cheap. Sometimes, they start out cheap and the bump in price comes before you can finish the buying process. Sometimes, the quote changes because of factors that they don’t mention to the customer. Once the quote changed, my friend couldn’t get back to the old price, no matter how much coverage he cut from the policy.

I will remind you of this, when a customer visits their local independent agent, the agent never presents an incomplete quote to the customer. The agent takes their information and shops the insurance for them. It could even be done while the customer sits in the office. In the end, the agent should help the customer balance their budget needs with coverage needs.

OK, customers may not be able to see an agent at midnight the night before their policy expires. No, customers may not be able to just walk in, have a two-minute conversation and walk out, ID card in hand. But I have found that getting an agent involved can help the customer get what they need with as little hassle as possible and they never change the quote in the middle of the conversation with the customer.

Even at the last minute.

About Patrick Wraight

Patrick Wraight, CIC, CRM, AU, is director of Insurance Journal's Academy of Insurance. He can be reached at pwraight@ijacademy.com.

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