The power of comparison shopping for insurance – and three tools to make an informed decision

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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…

Unlimited access to what feels like unlimited information can seem overwhelming, but it’s also empowering – especially when it comes to being a smart shopper. Gone are the days when we had to blindly make our purchases, whether buying a new book, pair of shoes, concert tickets or auto insurance. We’ve got independent third parties, online search engines and consumer reviews to aid us in our purchases, allowing us to compare, research and make the most informed decisions possible.

This shift in mindset is certainly becoming a trend in the insurance world. According to the J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Insurance Shopping Study, existing customers are more frequently looking at new policies, with the rate of switching among insurance shoppers increasing to 35 percent. And those shoppers often receive three to four quotes before making their decision, allotting time to consider the pros and cons without rushing into an ill-advised choice.

The J.D. Power study confirms a simple fact about looking at insurance policies: There’s never been a better time to comparison shop. The tools below will prove vital to making an empowered decision.


Independent third parties

If you were interested in insurance a decade or two (or longer) ago, your researching options were severely limited. Sure, you could subscribe to a magazine like Mechanix Illustrated, which might have an article with a few tips or recommendations, but you were at the mercy of the publisher. Perhaps the magazine had a relationship with a certain company and more heavily promoted them. Or what if the author had one bad experience with a business and swore them off forever? 

Maybe you skipped the magazine altogether – too many papercuts! – and just chatted with a direct seller or broker. They may have told you a certain price is the best you can do, or they’d try to throw in a bunch of unnecessary add-ons. You’re not getting the full picture, and it can prove costly.

Luckily, we’ve got independent third-party sources nowadays, (including this very website). There’s no allegiance to any one company; it’s simply about helping people find the best solution for their situation.

While you should comparison shop for your insurance every six months (the length of most auto insurance policies), even just occasionally browsing multiple options makes a world of difference.

Thanks to the Internet, finding those options – and comparing car insurance – is easier than ever.


The power of search engines

If you’re of a certain generation, you surely remember Ask Jeeves (now just called For the younger crowd, this was the go-to “find something on the Internet” tool. It launched in 1996 and seemed super cool. After all, if you ever had a nagging question, you could type it into a box and get answers delivered right to your computer! 

The only problem: It was kind of a pain to find something totally accurate.

For starters, you had to type in a full question, and even that might not get you what you want. Additionally, you might be unsure of how to word something, or a search result would come back that was all wrong. Ask Jeeves didn’t really have the personalization functionality of modern day search engines because the data just didn’t exist yet.

But now, Google brings back millions of personalized results in mere seconds, even if what you typed into the search bar is half of a barely coherent phrase. Things like “best insurance” or “cheap insurance offers” can turn up the same relevant search results that “what is the ideal type of car insurance I should buy?” would present – and it’s a lot less cumbersome.

It’s not just Google, either. Other search engines like Bing, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo can provide beneficial info, as can newer sites like Answer the Public, which provides content ideas for the most frequently asked questions around a topic.

While any kind of online searching can be useful for comparison shopping, it’s especially helpful in shedding light on others in similar situations.


Consumer reviews to the rescue

One of the great Mr. Rogers quotes is: “You are a very special person. There is only one like you in the whole world. There’s never been anyone exactly like you before, and there will never be again. Only you. And people can like you exactly as you are.”

Now, that’s a very kindhearted message. But Mr. Rogers wasn’t talking about people dealing with insurance, because there are most definitely others like you.

And that’s a good thing! Rather than relying on a singular opinion and taking that word as law, you can read multiple reviews about, say, Nationwide Insurance, instead of counting on Peyton Manning and Brad Paisley to steer you in the right direction.

You already know you’re getting insight from other people who have tried a company you’re considering. But you can dive even further into the reviews, finding people around your age, in your state, or even with the same make and model that you drive. All in the name of research to find your best option.

As consumers, we’re empowered to make an informed decision about our insurance. It’s a special time, and it’s only going to get better as more data gets collected and more people share their experiences. We’re all in this together to make the complicated world of comparing insurance a little less complicated.

Do you love your insurance company? Wished you knew something about your current policy before you picked it? Let us know on Twitter!