No one wants to shop for car insurance, but U.S. law requires drivers to be insured. Let us help you streamline the insurance shopping process by avoiding common online mistakes.
The first thing to understand is that there are two types of insurance comparison websites: quote comparison sites and lead generation sites.
Quote comparison sites let you instantly compare quotes from multiple insurance providers. They provide accurate, personalized rates, discounts, and coverage options all on one site. Think of them like airline or hotel comparison websites that show all of your choices and prices on one page.
In order to provide accurate insurance quotes, these sites ask you for multiple pieces of information, including zip code, occupation, vehicle type, and driving history. These detailed questions are what allow the sites to produce accurate, real-time insurance quotes.
In contrast, lead generation sites simply sell your information to their advertising partners. These sites are not built to provide you with personalized quotes and are not as useful for customers seeking accurate information.
These sites do not sell your information to insurance carriers or agencies.
There are two distinct types of quote comparison sites: ones that provide real quotes and those that return estimated quotes.
Insurify is a free insurance comparison engine that provides real-time, accurate quotes from top insurance companies in the U.S.
Insurify offers a wide variety of carriers to choose from, an easy-to-use interface, and can effectively service drivers in all segments of the market. To-date it has delivered over 4 million insurance quotes from top providers such as The General, MetLife, and Liberty Mutual.
Insurify has been featured on Forbes, Wall Street Journal, and CNET and is considered one of the top quote comparison sites.
How it works: Insurify asks shoppers to answer a series of questions that it uses to produce real-time, accurate quotes. In addition to its streamlined mobile and desktop sites, the site also offers the unique ability to receive quotes via Facebook Messenger.
The questions were easy to answer and the process was straightforward—I was able to submit my information and get personalized quotes in under five minutes.
Results: Insurify produced five quotes, each with the option to contact the insurance company immediately or schedule a phone call for a later time. For some quotes I could even complete the entire purchase process online.
I requested to have an agent call me, and found out that she already had all the information I had submitted online, so I didn’t need to answer any further questions.
Overall, I was very impressed with Insurify’s insurance quote comparison tool. I completed the whole process on my smartphone and was given comprehensive information about coverage levels, discounts, and prices.
Compare.com is another online car insurance comparison tool that generates quotes from multiple insurance providers.
In addition to car insurance quotes, Compare also provides quotes for home, health, small business, mobile plans, commercial auto, motorcycle insurance, and car loans.
The company has been featured in Forbes, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, but I found that they have a limited number of partnerships with the major insurance companies in the U.S.
How it works: Compare’s shopping process asked me to enter my zip code, vehicle information, driver information, and insurance history.
Entering the information was fairly straightforward. Most of the fields were drop-down menus or pre-filled based on information I had submitted on previous pages.
The insurance history questions were very detailed, including questions about my current policy limits and how long I’ve been with my current insurance provider. Unlike Insurify, I don’t think I’d be able to get accurate quotes from Compare without my existing insurance paperwork in front of me.
I also found it inconvenient that Compare didn’t proactively suggest discounts; instead, they required me to search through potential discounts at the end of the process. Manually searching for discounts this way was time consuming and detracted from the shopping experience.
Results: I only received one quote for MAPFRE insurance. The quote page offered background information on MAPFRE and the option to call an agent to purchase the policy. There was also an option to request that an agent contact me by phone or email later.
The following sites provide estimated quotes, but not necessarily accurate prices.
Nerdwallet.com offers a free comparison tool for car, health, and life insurance quotes.
The site has been featured in Forbes, New York Times, and Good Morning America.
How it works: During the insurance quote process, Nerdwallet asked questions about my vehicle, driving, and insurance history.
The questions were detailed, and most of the answer boxes were in free-text format, which required me to type out my response in full. This was frustrating, because I prefer a drop-down menu or pre-filled options, especially while using a mobile device.
Results: Nerdwallet returned quotes from mostly name-brand insurance carriers.
The quotes page included details about each company, a company rating, and contact information.
There was no mention of discounts or coverage options during the shopping process, however, prompting me to wonder how accurate the quotes were, and how much additional information I would have to give were I to speak to an agent.
The Zebra is another free auto insurance quote comparison tool. Their quotes are also estimates and, therefore, not as accurate.
The Zebra has been featured in Forbes, Fortune, and The Huffington Post.
How it works: The quoting process was fairly quick, and only asked for my zip code, and car make and model before giving me 11 estimated quotes.
Results: The quote page offered company descriptions, ratings, and phone numbers. However I would have needed to submit additional information if I wanted to receive more accurate quotes.
In addition, they didn’t offer coverage level recommendations based on the information I entered.
Overall, I did not enjoy this quoting experience. Updating my information was difficult, and I was not confident in the accuracy of the quotes.
These sites often attract your interest with competitive quotes, but then transfer you to a different site to continue shopping and complete your transaction, often at a higher price. This is because lead generations sites are incentivized to sell your information to an agency, not to present you with the most accurate price.
You can still find auto insurance quotes on lead generations sites, but don’t expect to find accurate quotes without visiting multiple other sites as part of the process.
DMV.org is a privately-owned site that helps drivers interact with their local Department of Motor Vehicles. This site is not an official government agency, but a middleman between you and your local DMV; for example, a user may renew their vehicle registration or driver’s license on the site for an additional fee.
How it works: Each state page on the site offers information on required coverage, optional coverage, proof of insurance, vehicle registration, insurance plans, rates, and discounts. They also have an insurance quoting engine.
Results: After testing the DMV.org quoting system, I discovered that they do not actually provide car insurance quotes. Instead, they just provide you with links to local auto insurance companies. When I entered my zip code, I was given the option to be transferred to Progressive, Esurance, or Plymouth Rock.
I was required to re-enter my personal information on each of these websites in order to get an accurate quote.
The majority of DMV’s reviews on the Better Business Bureau website are negative, mostly due to the issues involving processing fees for filing services.
InsuranceQuotes is a free, online comparison tool that generates advertisements.
In addition to auto insurance, InsuranceQuotes also provides links to companies like Progressive, Travelers, and Liberty Mutual, which sell life, homeowners, health, renters, dental, group health, and business insurance.
How it works: During the quoting process I was asked for basic information, such as the make/model of my car, birthdate, education, and marital status.
However the fine print explained that I would, “authoriz[e] up to eight insurance companies or their agents or partner companies to contact me at the number and address provided with insurance quotes or to obtain additional information.”
Results: I was led to a “quotes page” that only featured an ad for Progressive and a link to its homepage.
In the meantime, InsuranceQuotes opened a new tab in my browser with advertisements for three other insurance companies.
NetQuote is a free, online insurance comparison tool that generates advertisements.
In addition to auto insurance, Netquote also offers quotes for health, home, renters, business, and life insurance. They work with over 100 insurance companies in the U.S. including Progressive, StateFarm, and Liberty Mutual.
How it works: Once I entered my zip code I was brought to a page that looked exactly like InsuranceQuote.
NetQuote even asked me to agree to the same fine print agreement as InsuranceQuotes, which allowed eight or more insurance companies to contact me with offers and information.
Results: I was delivered one ad for Progressive and a link to see my “free quote.” NetQuote also opened a new tab with ads for Progressive, Esurance, and TheZebra.
I was overwhelmed by ads, and received zero quotes.
QuoteWizard is another insurance quote comparison tool that generates ads and sells your information.
In addition to auto insurance, they also offer to send you to sites like Liberty Mutual, Metlife, and Esurance, which sell home, renters, health, and life insurance.
How it works: The quote process asked me for my car information, my birthday, insurance status, and marriage status.
But, of course, they also wanted my email, home address, and phone number. According to the fine print, this would allow “Authorizing Telemarketing Calls From This Website, Our Marketing And Re-Marketing Partners, And Up To Eight Insurance Companies Or Their Agents Or Partner Companies.”
That’s a lot of companies who would receive my phone number and personal information!
Results: I was brought to a page with ads for Progressive and Geico but received no actual quotes.
I’d consider QuoteWizard the worst of the lead generation sites.
SmartFinancial sells ads for over 20 insurance companies across the U.S. including The General, Mercury, and Progressive.
They claim to receive over 200,000 requests for quotes each month and promise to deliver them in less than three minutes.
How it works: The quoting process moved very quickly with the help of drop down menus. The site requested information on my vehicle, zip code, current insurance, desired coverage level, credit score, and education. It did not provide recommendations on coverage levels and types.
Before I clicked to view my quotes I noticed the fine print asking me to agree to allow, “marketing partners to contact you for marketing/telemarketing purposes at the number and address provided above, including your wireless number.”
Results: After the longest “quoting” process of any of these lead generation sites, I was brought to a page with four ads for insurance companies but no quotes.
Smart Financial has the appearance of a real insurance comparison site, but sadly it is as useless as the other advertiser-driven sites on this list.
ValuePenguin helps consumers make informed decisions about their credit cards, banking, investments, and insurance.
The site offers comparison tools, in-depth financial product reviews, and analysis of industry trends. ValuePenguin’s auto insurance pages offer information on the cheapest insurance companies by state, city, vehicle model, and more.
How it works: ValuePenguin offers car insurance quotes, but it delivers inaccurate, estimate quotes like DMV.org.
Results: When I entered my Massachusetts zip code I was taken to a page that listed car insurance companies in my area.
While the page gave a quick summary of each company, I would have had to click on each link and enter my personal information in order to receive accurate quotes. As a result, I would not use ValuePenguin if I were looking for quick and accurate insurance quotes.
Given the wide variety of options and prices, it is critical that you compare carriers and policies before you buy, and there are a number of websites that make this process easier. My advice is to use an insurance comparison site with real quotes— though you may have to answer more questions up-front, the quotes will be accurate and personalized.
You may find that a few minutes spent on a site like Insurify will save you hundreds of dollars a year in insurance cost. Good luck!