Let It Roll: Pros And Cons Of Buying Auto Insurance Online

If you're like most Americans, you've started to feel quite comfortable buying things over the Internet. For example, the National Retail Federation (NRF) found that in 2014, for the first time, the average holiday shopper did more than half -- 52.9 percent -- of his or her gift buying online. That's up from 49.9 percent last year.

So it stands to reason that American drivers are also becoming more interested in shopping for and purchasing auto insurance online. At the same time, many people would prefer to consult a flesh-and-blood agent like Jimmy Fisher State Farm Ins located near where they live. What are the pros and cons of buying insurance online?

Pros of Buying Auto Insurance Online

The reasons why you would want to buy insurance online are similar to why you'd purchase a holiday sweater or gift-wrapped toy online: convenience and price.

Convenience: You can shop any time, day or night, from anywhere with an Internet connection. You can also browse services that compare several companies' prices at one time, as well as give you a chart of which policy offers what features.

Price: Being able to compare different policies and their costs is simpler online in many respects. You can see what's included with each policy and how much it will cost per month. About 8 in 10 consumers select the lowest price option they can get, according to the J.D. Power 2014 Insurance Shopping Study.

Other Advantages:

  • Find reviews and read about other customers' insurance experiences and recommendations.
  • Easier to switch when new insurance company can just take your online application, approve it and transfer your policy for you.
  • Companies that offer online quotes usually also have more online tools like electronic insurance cards.

Cons of Buying Auto Insurance Online

You may not get the best price. You're inputting information into a form, and if you make a mistake, you may not get the best price. A live agent can go over everything with you and ensure you're getting the best available price. Even after you get your policy, you may benefit by calling your provider or talking to your agent every year and making sure you've got the least expensive option available.

Many online insurance sites that compare prices are aggregate companies or third parties.  They are not connected to the insurer at all. You don't have much recourse if something is not handled correctly.

But, even though cost drives a lot of insurance decisions, the J.D. Power study shows that 28 percent of people switch insurers because of a bad experience with their current provider. The most important part about getting insurance is making certain that your claims will be covered and you will be treated well when there's an accident -- and that is hard to determine during the online purchasing process. Think carefully about the kind of customer service you want and need before you purchase your next policy.