Shopping for insurance has changed dramatically in recent years. Smaller companies have entered the marketplace (there are now over 6,000 insurance companies and 36,000 independent agencies serving consumers across the US!), new technologies have made pricing more accurate, and comparison shopping has become a regular part of the insurance buying process. Some consumers prefer to work with an insurance agent and others are content to complete the entire process on their own online.

Whether you’re shopping online for the first time or you’re an old pro, it’s worth taking a moment to ensure you understand the current best practices for purchasing insurance. Keep reading for security tips, details to keep in mind, and how to ensure you’ll end up with a policy that’s right for your needs and budget.


Security Basics for Shopping Online

Online shopping has become such a regular part of our daily lives that it’s easy to forget the risks that come with internet financial transactions. Remember that privacy is vital, both on your computer and in your physical location, and when it comes to insurance you need to provide personal details and information to possible carriers for them to give you an accurate quote. Be wary of shopping on a public hotspot, and it’s best to use a virtual private network (VPN) for maximum security while you’re in public. When in public you should also stay aware of potentially prying eyes. Never reveal sensitive personal information if others can see your screen. Ideally, whenever possible, you should shop while at home on your own secured network.
You should also pay attention to the websites you’re visiting. Never provide personal or financial information to a site that doesn’t have SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption. You’ll know if a site has SSL security if the web address starts with HTTP(S) instead of HTTP. You can also look for the icon of a locked padlock, which is typically to the left of the URL in your browser’s address bar. When in doubt, always err on the side of caution. Do not give out your social security number or other personal information if you are at all unsure about the integrity of a website.

Buying Car Insurance Online

With insurance companies advertising on social media and third-party websites, how can you tell if a carrier is reputable? Make sure to do your homework. Reserve time to research agents or companies you are interested in. Look into a company’s financial strength, talk to people you trust, pay attention to reviews that include words like ‘ripoff’ or ‘scam’, and check out their online business and social media presence. This will give you some insight to evaluate if a company is legitimate and provide you with a general overview of their business practices.

Once you’ve narrowed down the carriers you want to compare it’s worth taking time to think through the pros and cons of online shopping. The process is quick and easy, which means you can shop at your convenience. You’ll have control over the details of your policy and can tailor it in real-time, but you’ll be solely responsible for making sure you understand what you’re purchasing.

If you decide to do your own research and shopping, whether online or over the phone, be sure to compare multiple carriers so you can compare prices and policy details thoroughly. Wondering how to compare the nuts and bolts of a policy? Look for liability limits and deductibles. If customer service matters to you, talk directly to a representative of that carrier, or see if you know someone from your network who has had a claim processed and evaluate their experience.

Don’t Leave Money on the Table

According to a recent study, 84% of drivers surveyed agreed that comparing car insurance quotes saved them money. And even more consumers—92%, in fact—received a lower rate when they switched insurance carriers. Be aware that some insurance companies might slowly raise rates over time, so it pays to compare rates every time your renewal date approaches. Be sure to factor discounts into your research, as well. One-third of American drivers don’t even apply for discounts, with women pursuing discounts with even lower frequency. In an economy where inflation is on the rise it’s important to make sure you’re taking advantage of every opportunity to save. Keep an eye on emerging insurance trends to save more in the future—rates for electric vehicles are expected to decline, and usage-based insurance (UBI) technology is expected to gain traction in the market.

Savings aren’t the whole story, though. “The average American driver spends over $1,632 on car insurance a year,” said Kacie Saxer-Taulbee, Manager of Research and Content at Insurify. “But they might not even understand what that money is going towards.” Saving money does you no good if you don’t have a firm understanding of what your policy covers in the case of an accident. Over 75% of drivers, for example, falsely believe that comprehensive coverage covers damage to their own vehicle when they are involved in an accident. More than half of drivers incorrectly assume that bodily injury liability—required by most states—covers their own medical expenses. If you have any questions about the details of your policy, you should reach out to an agent. Independent agents, like those at Toyota Insurance can help guide you through the process, do the shopping for you, write policies from several carriers and bring the value, innovation, and expertise that you would expect from Toyota.

They can also help you find advanced policies such as their Connected Car insurance that allows you to leverage your driving behavior to qualify for discounts and customizable rates, while making sure your data is as secure as possible.

*This is a sponsored article.