Skip to main content

«  View All Posts

Getting Auto Insurance Quotes Online vs. Agent-Assisted

September 12th, 2023 | 6 min read

By Daniel J. Middleton

Getting auto insurance quotes can be a daunting task. You want to find the best coverage for your needs and budget, but you don’t know where to start. Should you buy insurance online or through an agent? What are the pros and cons of each option? How can you compare quotes from different companies and make sure you’re getting a fair deal?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by these questions, you’re not alone. Many drivers in CNY face the same dilemma when shopping for auto insurance. That’s why we’re presenting this information to help you make an informed decision.

We’re Horan, a trusted independent insurance agency in Baldwinsville, New York. We’ve been serving CNY customers since 2009, helping them find personalized insurance solutions for personal and business needs.

In this article, we will explain the differences between buying insurance online and through an agent. We’ll also show you how each option can affect your coverage, price, service, and overall experience.

Read on to learn more about buying auto insurance quotes online vs. agent-assisted. Find out which option is best for you.

Pros of Getting Auto Insurance Quotes Online

Getting auto insurance quotes online can be a convenient and time-saving option for many drivers. Here are some of the benefits of shopping for car insurance online:

  • You can get a quote anytime, anywhere, without needing to visit an office or make a phone call.
  • You can use your computer, smartphone, or tablet to access online quote tools.
  • You can compare several quotes from different companies using these tools.
  • You have personal access to the prices, coverages, and discounts offered by various insurers.

Since you don’t have to talk to anyone, you can avoid sales pitches. If you’re confident and trust your research, you can tackle it yourself.

But before you get too excited about the online option, know that there are drawbacks.

How an Independent Agent Can Save You from Auto Insurance Mistakes

Auto insurance is a common but complex product. If you DIY online and pick numbers you don’t understand, you may regret your coverages and limits later.

The online system won’t warn you if you choose inadequate coverage. No one will ask you, “Hey, before we continue, let’s learn more about you. What’s your situation? Let’s see if this is a good or bad decision.”

But an independent agent will ask important questions like,

  • Are you retired?
  • Do you have kids?
  • How is your financial situation?
  • Can you afford to lose money?
  • Are you close to retirement?
  • Do you want to hold on to your 401(k) savings or give it to the person you rear-ended? He’s in the hospital. Since you chose low liability limits, your savings and investments will have to supplement the payout.

These questions aren’t meant to scare you. They’re meant to help you understand the risks and consequences of choosing the wrong auto insurance policy.

Here’s where an online DIY search for insurance quotes pales in comparison to the agent-assisted option. You provide details about yourself and your car.

But the independent agent asks, “Do you have any other drivers in the household?”

“No,” you answer.

The agent follows up with: “Is there anyone under the age of 16?”

You say, “Well, my son will be 16 in six months. And he’s eager to start driving.”

The agent pauses in consideration. Then she says, “With that in mind, I don’t want to quote you through this carrier. I have another one that’s more suitable. In six or seven months, when you add a teen driver, your rate isn’t going to be competitive anymore. The second carrier is going to be better at that point, so why don’t we get started with them now.”

An online auto insurance quote can’t match this experience.

An independent agent can help you find the best coverage for your needs and budget. They can explain the terms and conditions of your policy in simple language.

An independent agent can also save you time and money. They’ll do so by comparing quotes from several carriers and finding discounts and deals you may not know. They can also provide personalized service and support throughout the life of your policy. An agent can also help you file claims and make changes as needed.

A good agent will take the time to learn as much as they can about you, your vehicle, and your driving history and habits. That will allow them to determine what the most appropriate level of protection is for you. They’ll provide different scenarios and examples that will help you make an informed decision.

In the end, you’ll understand the numbers on your quote, rather than randomly picking items online.

According to Insurance Business Magazine, customer satisfaction with DIYing on digital platforms declined in 2022 overall. Independent agents have higher scores in policy offerings, price, billing process, interaction, and claims.

If you want to buy auto insurance with confidence and peace of mind, consider an independent agent. The online experience cannot rival the personal and professional touch of a qualified agent.

Infographic-1_The Problem with Cheap Auto Insurance Quotes

Online Auto Insurance Quotes: How They Can Cost You More Than You Think

Where the online option gets hairy is when you’re asked to supply info on previous accidents or traffic violations. The online process doesn’t include running your motor vehicle and loss history report for the initial quote. That’s a problem.

Say you remember a previous accident. You were driving to Salmon Run Mall in Watertown last May. While coming off the Loop you made a wide turn. To miss the curb, you corrected and hit the brake. But you bumped a Ford Escape in front of you in a brief panic. That led to a $5,000 at-fault collision claim.

You pop that into the system. The online software starts automating. It crunches the numbers based on all the info you provided. Then, it offers a quote. You smile, ready to buy the policy.

But not so fast. The insurer later runs the motor vehicle and loss history report. Turns out you were half right about the accident from last May.

You forgot you clipped an oncoming vehicle while correcting on that fast turn in Watertown, New York. That led to a $12,000 property damage payout.

The policy numbers don’t match your online quote. That’s because you went from having a $5,000 payout to a $17,000 payout. This is the kind of thing that often happens with the online quote process.

Here are some examples of situations where online quotes may not be sufficient or reliable:

  • Many times, getting online auto insurance quotes involves a complex driving history, as shown above. In such cases, all past accidents, violations, or claims won’t factor into your quotes. Because of that, the quotes won’t reflect your actual risk level or eligibility for certain discounts. You may need to provide more details or documentation to verify your driving record and get an accurate quote.
  • Problems also arise when you have several vehicles. Online quotes may not account for the bundling discounts or multi-car policies you may qualify for. You may need to contact an agent to find out how to save money by insuring all your vehicles with the same company.
  • Special coverage needs also pose a problem. You may own a classic car, motorcycle, RV, boat, or commercial vehicle. Online quotes may not offer the specific coverages or limits you need for these items. You may need to consult an agent who can advise you on the best options for your unique situation.

The Privacy Risks of Getting Online Auto Insurance Quotes

Getting online auto insurance quotes may seem convenient and fast. But it comes with a price. You have to supply personal info that includes sensitive information you normally don’t provide anywhere else online.

For example, you have to provide

  • Vehicle Identification Numbers
  • dates of birth for everyone on the policy
  • Social Security numbers,
  • drivers’ license numbers, and
  • driving habits

That’s a lot of personal data that can reveal a lot about you.
What happens to this data after you submit it? Companies are ready and waiting to use that information to build a profile on you. They can use it to sell you products tailored to you. Or they can sell your info to other companies for the same purpose. Even if you don’t buy the policy, that information is stored for future use.

And you also provided an email that will see future sales pitches flooding in.

Is it worth it? Think twice before you share your personal info online. You may end up paying more than you expected.

We’re an independent insurance agency that will never sell your personal info. Nor will we spam you with pointless offers. That’s why we only ask for your name, email, and phone number online. The rest you can give to us directly.

Cons of Getting Auto Insurance Quotes Through the Agent-Assisted Method

Bear in mind that the agent-assisted method also comes with some drawbacks. But that depends on the type of agent you work with. Not all agents are alike, and that factor may affect your decision and level of satisfaction.

One drawback is that some agencies might not be as cutting-edge with technology as others. That may affect their availability and efficiency. You can use Google Reviews to see if the agency is known for prompt service.

A second drawback is that getting auto insurance quotes agent-assisted may be biased. This is true with agents affiliated with certain companies or products.

For example, captive agents represent one company and can only sell their products. They may not offer you the most competitive or suitable options for your needs. They may also have conflicts of interest. They may receive incentives or bonuses for selling certain policies or meeting quotas.

Read our companion article about “captive” and other types of agents and which you should choose.

Auto Insurance Quote Sheet Graphic

Getting Suitable Auto Insurance Quotes is No Longer Out of Reach

We’ve covered the pros and cons of getting online and agent-assisted auto insurance quotes. Choosing the right option for your needs can make a big difference in your time, money, and satisfaction.

If you follow the advice in this article, you can avoid some of the pitfalls and risks of getting auto insurance quotes. You can also find the best deal and coverage for your situation. You can save yourself from hassle, stress, and regret.

But if you overlook the advice in this article, you may end up with inaccurate, costly, or biased quotes. You may also expose your personal info to unwanted use or abuse. You may miss out on opportunities to save money and get better service.

So do your research, compare your options, and make an informed decision. You deserve the best auto insurance for your needs.

Whether you prefer to buy insurance online or through an agent, we’ll help you secure your future with reliable insurance protection.

To get started, click the Get a Quote button below. One of our experienced insurance specialists will contact you. They’ll discuss your options and pair you with the right auto insurance policy.

Want more auto insurance quote knowledge? Learn about 6 misconceptions buyers have when searching for new policies.

Get a Quote

Daniel J. Middleton

Daniel is an accomplished content creator. He has been working in publishing for almost two decades. Horan Companies hired Daniel as its content manager in November 2022. The agency entrusted its messaging to him. Since then, Daniel has written insurance articles, service pages, PDF guides, and more. All in an effort to educate CNY readers. He's helping them understand the world of insurance so they can make informed decisions.