Auto insurance. Pennsylvania.
2005 Consumer Guide to Automobile Insurance
Buying Auto Insurance on the Internet
Although the Internet currently accounts for a relatively small percentage of total insurance sales, its influence in the marketplace is growing rapidly. Quoting agents are actively marketing their services to consumers via a growing number of Web sites.
Quoting agents provide sample automobile insurance rates to Internet users who respond to various online questions. In addition, many insurance companies and traditional agents and brokers have their own Web sites providing pricing, service information and, sometimes, the means to complete an auto insurance purchase. The Insurance Department's Web site has a listing of the web sites for regulated insurance companies.
The World Wide Web provides a constantly changing and expanding marketplace. If you are shopping online for automobile insurance, you should consider the following:
Automobile insurance is a fairly sophisticated product. Before making purchases online, you should be aware of the types of products and coverages available in Pennsylvania State. This annual Consumer Guide to Automobile Insurance and other such publications can help enhance your understanding of the market.
You also need to know the types and limits of coverage you want to purchase. Do you want collision? comprehensive? Do you want the minimum liability limits required by law or higher limits to protect your assets in the event others are injured as a result of your negligence? Do you want or need any additional coverages?
If you intend to purchase auto insurance on the Web, make sure the insurer you are dealing with is licensed to sell insurance in Pennsylvania State. Just because an insurer has a Web site doesn't make it a licensed insurer. If you are unsure of the licensing status of an insurer on the Web, check the Directory of Regulated Companies on the Insurance Department's Web site. In addition, you should only be dealing with licensed agents and brokers on the Web. If you are unsure whether an agent is licensed in Pennsylvania , call or e-mail the agent and request his or her Pennsylvania license number.
In seeking your rate quote, you will be presented with a series of questions regarding your driving history, your vehicles, and other relevant characteristics. Make sure you answer these questions fully and accurately. For example, if you're unsure whether you had an accident or violation within the past three years, take the time to check.
Have the declarations page of your current policy by your side as you respond and know the make, model, year and vehicle identification number (VIN) for each of your vehicles.
Be aware that a price quote from an insurer on the Internet should be the same as one received by mail, fax, or phone. (Note: In some states, insurers are beginning to offer discounts for business transacted over the Internet.)
Shop service as well as price. Savvy insurance consumers know that sometimes the lowest price insurer isn't the best buy if an insurer is not responsive once claims arise. The Insurance Department's Automobile Insurance Complaint Ranking, also available on the Department's Web site, is one source to help you assess an insurer's claims-handling practices.
Remember, when you are applying for or purchasing insurance you are transmitting key financial and personal data to an insurer or agent. Make sure the Web site you are using is secure. Many Web sites will include their privacy and security policy on the site itself. For example, a Web site may be encrypting (coding) your private information to make it unreadable to third parties. The Web site will describe that process. In addition, you can activate your Web browser to notify you when you are entering or leaving a secure mode. (e.g., In Microsoft Explorer, select View/Internet Options/Advanced/Security, then select "Warn if changing between secure and not secure mode." Once selected, a notice will be displayed on your screen each time you enter or leave a secure mode.)
Once you have followed the above guidelines and obtained your quotes, you should be ready to make meaningful comparisons among insurers.
Over the next few years, Internet sales are expected to grow as competition intensifies in the electronic marketplace. Pennsylvania State consumers should be aware that the Web can be a convenient means of comparing prices and/or purchasing automobile insurance, but that it is not necessarily the best means for every consumer. Whether you use the Web or not, it pays to shop for auto insurance.
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