LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Online insurance: Quicker, not better | TahoeDailyTribune.com

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Online insurance: Quicker, not better

In today’s challenging financial climate, the lure of speedy, cheap online insurance is tempting.

However, insurance is not a “one-size-fits-all” product and what may seem a bargain to untrained consumers, may not be.

National Underwriter Property & Casualty Magazine, a respected insurance industry publication, conducts an annual survey of online automobile insurance. In a Nov. 24, 2008, article titled “Online Auto Rates Down, But Price Gap Widens For Weary Consumers,” Senior Editor Ara C. Trembly noted, “In what would have to be called an unsettling trend, National Underwriter’s 2008 online auto insurance shopping survey has revealed a widening price gap between low and high quotations…. In 2007, the highest quote was 85 percent above the lowest. In 2008, however, the highest figure was 94 percent higher than the lowest quote…”

Trembly also found widely differing requirements and complexity in the rate quoting process. “After so many years of selling auto insurance online, you would think that insurers would make the process less time-consuming and more user-friendly.” He concludes, “Customers are likely to be frustrated and confused by the experience – and who can blame them? Overall, we must conclude, as we have in past years, that consumers can get some interesting ideas on auto quotes from online outlets, but in the end, it may be to their advantage to consult a human being who happens to be an agent.”

Buying health insurance online is even more problematic, since it is a highly complex product, where making the right choice is vital. Your broker knows you and has the expertise to ask ALL the right questions, not just the obvious ones. And, unlike an automated website, if later you have questions, or a claim, you will be greeted by a human being, not by a computer or an online call center.

Richard Thomson

South Lake Tahoe

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