What Happens When You Google "Compare Auto Insurance"?

March 16, 2015

You’ve finally realized you’re overpaying for your car insurance. You know there are better deals out there — but how are you supposed to find the best? When you Google “compare auto insurance,” 25 million results show up. That’s not helpful.

After you Google “compare auto insurance,” how do you make a decision about which site to use? We take a closer look at some of the top search results and what they can actually do for you.

How to compare auto insurance with NerdWallet

NerdWallet is one of the top results when you Google “compare auto insurance.” Founded in 2009 by CEO Tim Chen to provide unbiased, equitable analyses of consumer credit cards, the site now includes data and advice on other financial decisions: mortgage rates, checking accounts, health insurance and auto insurance. NerdWallet makes money whenever a customer clicks a link on its site and ends up signing up for a new card or purchasing a service.

How does it stack up against other sites? NerdWallet takes a minimal approach. Instead of a detailed questionnaire, it asks just three questions: where you live, what car you drive and if you’re currently insured. With that information, NerdWallet gives you insurance premium estimates — not quotes — from insurers such as USAA, Allstate and Nationwide. The trouble is, these numbers aren’t going to be accurate unless you continue adding information about yourself. When you click “get quote,” the site sends you straight to an insurer’s site.

How to compare auto insurance with QuoteWizard

Another top result when you Google “compare auto insurance” is QuoteWizard, a site that claims its average user saves $65 a month by switching to a less expensive car insurance company. QuoteWizard asks first for your ZIP code, then it requires a few more pages of information in order to give you quotes from four different insurers.

“Privacy is important to us,” QuoteWizard says on its auto insurance homepage, but it’s upfront about its business model: it makes money by selling leads (i.e. your personal information) to insurance agents. Users’ biggest concern with QuoteWizard is being harassed by agents who want to sell them insurance — even if they never asked for a quote on the site. Corroborating these complaints, some insurance agents say the leads QuoteWizard gives them are poor quality.

How to compare auto insurance with Bankrate

Bankrate.com is the granddaddy of financial-advice websites, with a history that goes back to a newsletter started in 1976. Today Bankrate is the leading online aggregator of financial rate information. Bankrate is also known for its free financial calculators for things like auto loan rates and mortgage rates. It’s not as well known for being a place to compare auto insurance, but Bankrate offers this service as well.

Bankrate tries to simplify comparing auto insurance by pre-filling data fields. If you match the pre-filled profile (good credit, professional salaried employee, insured two years or more) this may help speed up the process of getting a quote. However, make sure you read the fine print at the end of the questionnaire. It says that you “agree to receive marketing via automatic telephone dialing system or by artificial/pre-recorded message, or by text message from up to eight insurance companies or their agents, the owner of this website, and partner companies at the telephone number I have provided.” You also grant consent for the insurance companies to access your credit score and driving record.

How to compare auto insurance on insurers’ sites

Several auto insurance companies’ sites come up when you Google “compare auto insurance,” such as Esurance and GEICO. These insurance companies are so confident in their competitive rates that they offer to give you free quotes from other auto insurers. “If you find a policy at the right price from one of the other companies, we’ll even help you buy it right from our site,” Esurance says. Esurance isn’t generating these quotes itself, however, but partners with Answer Financial, another insurance comparison site that’s part of Allstate.

Regardless of where you look to compare, it’s always a good idea to see what options you have before buying a car insurance policy.

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