Buying Auto Insurance Online vs. Agent

Independent brokers and online comparison tools are both great ways to find affordable coverage. Compare quotes to reduce your auto insurance rates by up to 20%.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Advertiser Disclosure: We strive to help you make confident auto insurance decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. We are not affiliated with any one auto insurance provider and cannot guarantee quotes from any single provider. Our partnerships don’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own. To compare quotes from many different companies please enter your ZIP code on this page to use the free quote tool. The more quotes you compare, the more chances to save.

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Things to remember...

  • You can buy insurance either in person with an agent or online
  • Independent agents can show you multiple policies so you can choose for yourself
  • Buying insurance online can allow you to take your time in making a decision and look at several options for yourself

The world has changed a lot over the past 20 years. In the old days, if you needed insurance, accounting services, or just about anything else, you had to drive downtown to a physical walk-in business and sit down and talk to someone.

In some ways, this face-to-face contact was good. You could ask direct questions about your policy or other issues, sign all of the paperwork in person and get personal assistance with claims.

You got to know the agent on a personal basis, and you knew who to go to when you had a problem.

Nowadays, you can do anything you need to do online, including the following:

  • purchasing insurance
  • maintaining insurance
  • signing insurance policies

You don’t have the face-to-face connection that you had with real-world agents in a brick-and-mortar business, but the result is usually the same.

Enter your zip code into our free rate comparison tool to get started finding the policy that’s right for you.

Advantages of Purchasing an Insurance Policy Online

Some of the advantages of buying a policy online are:

  • You can shop and compare for yourself among several different companies and policies.
  • You have the opportunity to try out different policies until you find the one that works best.
  • You have online help when you need it without making an appointment.
  • Free quotes are usually available immediately.

These are some of the advantages of dealing with an insurance company online.

Most companies do have a direct toll-free number where you can call and ask any questions you have.

Some people prefer to deal with someone in person, but the advantage to online insurance purchasing is that you have access to some policies and companies at once so that you can make a side-by-side comparison before you buy.

There is also a sense of leisure regarding the length of time that it takes you to make up your mind regarding your policy.

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Buying from an Independent Agent

Regardless of whether you purchase your insurance policy from a real-world agent or an online agent, remember that it is usually better to deal with an “independent” agent than one who is committed to one particular insurance company.

An agent who only works for one company will always show you the benefits of having insurance with his or her company that they represent. They will have a hard time helping you draw a comparison between their business and others.

The insurance agent that is employed by a particular company obviously pledges some loyalty to the company they work for.

While, technically, they are supposed to advise you on what is best, what is best often will fall within the realms of what their company offers with such an agent.

Many of these employed agents are vested in the company; they get certain commissions based on their track record with that company and other factors.

It can be a disadvantage to you, the consumer when an agent is loyal to only one company because they feel uncomfortable comparing their offer to other policies, not only because of the obvious competition but because of “twisting laws.”

Twisting Laws

Twisting laws are very serious laws that insurance agents are aware of. They involve the issues of comparing policies to others with customers.

Twisting is a felony and anyone found guilty of such a crime can be sentenced to several years in prison.

The law states that if an insurance company compares a policy to another, they must show every benefit of both policies that they are comparing so as not to unduly influence the potential client in any way.

Think about how hard this would be to an insurance agent who is a pledge to be loyal to only one company. They would have to go against their company in cases where they see that another company would be better for the customer.

This fair comparison is, however, the first duty of a good insurance agent. They represent their client or customer that they are selling the policy to.

They should always have the potential customer’s best interests at heart, even when it requires that they lose a sale and recommend them to another company.

The Advantage of Independent Agents

Independent agents, unlike employees of a particular insurance company, are not bound to such loyalty to one company. They have the ability to show you several different types of policies, companies, and rates, and they have no vested interest in which one you choose.

This ability is a huge advantage to the insurance customer who simply needs to find the best policy for their needs.

Many insurance agents prefer to work as an independent agent, stating that they enjoy being less a salesman and more in a consultant’s role to their clients where they can feel free to advise them and find the policy that works best for them.

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Shop and Compare for the Best Deal

The best thing you can do when shopping for car insurance online is to deal either with an independent agent or to use a site that allows you to talk to multiple companies and look into the different policies so that you will have all of the information before you make a decision.

There will always be an element of salesmanship within the insurance industry. Insurance agents are sales people. But they are supposed also to be advisors who have your best interests at heart.

Most of them do, but when you talk to several of them, you will be able to see which one is best for your needs and make your decision.

It’s not easy to find the best policy for your needs, but with a bit of research and focus, you should be able to find a policy that works for you and your budget.

Compare auto insurance companies side-by-side today to get started finding the company that’s right for you.

Free Auto Insurance Comparison

Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap auto insurance rates.

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