4 things to keep in mind when using insurance comparison sites

The pros and cons to know when using The Zebra and other comparison engines

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Susan Meyer

Senior Editorial Manager

  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty

Susan is a licensed insurance agent and has worked as a writer and editor for over 10 years across a number of industries. She has worked at The Zebr…

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Ross Martin

Insurance Writer

  • 4+ years in the Insurance Industry

Ross joined The Zebra as a writer and researcher in 2019. He specializes in writing insurance content to help shoppers make informed decisions.

Ross h…

The frustrations of insurance shopping

There’s nothing more frustrating than uncertainty, especially where money is concerned. When you’re looking for insurance, online quotes can be an exciting idea (who doesn’t like talking on the phone to insurance agents less?). But they can also be frustrating, when the rate you are quoted changes when you actually buy the policy.

When you’re comparing car insurance online through sites like The Zebra — whose sole function is to help you save on insurance — those frustrations can still happen. Yes, you get access to a number of quotes you can easily compare…but how accurate are they? Is that actually what you will pay?

In the interest of transparency, in this article we’re going to address why the numbers you see in quotes might not be final, how to improve their accuracy and what to do if you don’t see any quotes.

The truth about comparison engines

Consumer Reports recently ran an article about comparison sites like The Zebra regarding how safe and accurate they are in getting quotes. 

The good news is they have had some positive things to say: "[Sites including The Zebra] function like a traditional independent insurance agent you’d call up on the phone, except they let you shop at your own pace online. When they work well, they’re useful tools.”[1]

It’s that when they work well that can be an issue. Some of the concerns the article brings up are that:

  • Depending on where you live, you might not get quotes
  • The quotes you see might be different than what you will be actually pay
  • You won’t see quotes from every insurance company
  • You still might have to call in 

Let’s address those concerns.

1. Where you live affects your quotes

When you take the time to enter all of your information into The Zebra’s comparison engine, you expect to receive a selection of competitive quotes from different insurance companies you can compare.

We’d love to be able to provide that for everyone too. However, unfortunately, some customers won’t receive any quotes. There are a number of factors to this, but one of the big ones is where you live. If you live in California, Florida or New York, you are probably well aware of an on-going insurance crisis. Many insurance companies are not writing new policies in select states, which naturally can affect the choices you are offered.

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2. The amount you pay might change from the quote

If you do receive quotes, it’s important to know that they are just estimates based on the information you provided. If you didn’t disclose something in your claims history or driving history, that information will come out during the underwriting process. In that case, the insurance rate you pay could be higher than what was quoted.

Insurance tip

To get the most accurate quote the first time, try to be as thorough and accurate as possible when filling out the questionnaire. This will lead to fewer surprises later.

3. You won’t see quotes from every insurance company

Regardless of which comparison site you use for research, none will offer quotes from every insurance company. Different insurance companies partner with different comparison sites and some don’t partner with any. 

The Zebra partners with a number of insurance carriers – both big names like Geico and Progressive and smaller, lesser-known insurance brands — to help provide a strong selection for customers. All of the insurance companies we partner with are vetted to ensure we’re only offering products we can stand behind. 

Below are the car insurance companies The Zebra is currently writing policies for:


AAA (CSAA) Foremost       Nationwide    
Acceptance GAINSCO   Novo
Advantage Auto GEICO Plymouth Rock    
Aspire     Grange Progressive
AssuranceAmerica     Integrity Safeco
Bristol West     Infinity    State Auto
Certainly KAI Advantage   Stillwater
Clearcover Liberty Mutual  Stonegate    
Commonwealth Casualty Lighthouse The General    
Dairyland   Mendota Traders    
Elephant Mercury    Travelers
Falcon     National General    Unique    

We absolutely admit that we’re not a comprehensive resource that covers every insurance company in existence.

What we are is a tool that can help you do research to get quotes from a number of companies. You might discover a new one that offers the coverage you need at a better price than what you’re paying. Then if you have a preferred company we don’t partner with, you can get results directly from that carrier to compare.

4. You still may need the human touch

As mentioned above, it’s possible you won’t receive any quotes at all after you enter your information in the questionnaire. That might be because of where you live (see above: California, Florida or New York) or other rating factors which mean we don’t have any rates to offer you. But, it might also be something that can be fixed by talking to one of our licensed insurance advisors.

So while one of the selling points of The Zebra is the ease of the technology, you may still need to call to troubleshoot. 

Why might be this be the case? From time to time, our rating platform fails to provide rates to certain customers because an insurance company makes a small update to their site and doesn’t notify us. Then when the insurance company needs additional information that our platform doesn’t provide, that will cause an error that prevents a rate from being offered to the customer. In these cases, it takes a licensed advisor to manually quote the customers. While relying on technology is great, we all know that it doesn't work perfectly and sometimes it takes a human to find the errors and correct them to get the customer that best price.

That’s why The Zebra is both: Technology to help kickstart the research process and in many cases provide you a number of quotes for comparison, and also a licensed agency to provide expert advice and find rates that others can’t.

Wrapping up

The Zebra is a licensed insurance agency whose mission is to find you a policy that can help you save money. You can do that through our comparison site to get quotes or by talking to one of our expert insurance agents on the phone. 

Our goals are to simplify the process of searching for insurance. We want to do that for as many customers as we can; however, depending on where you live, we may not be able to help you right now. If that’s the case for you, call our agency. If we are still unable to find you a rate, check back later, because in the constantly changing world of insurance, we might be able to find you a policy in the future.