Insurance and Finance

Apples to apples


Searching for auto insurance? Online comparison tools may seem useful, but their results are actually quite limited. In the past, shopping for the right auto policy was somewhat of a social pursuit, from asking friends for recommendations to meeting with different agents so that you could figure out who † could offer the best coverage and rate. But the web seems to be playing a bigger role in the way people shop for policies today.

“The internet, along with the smartphone, has changed the way many people shop for insurance,” says Mark Hanna, manager of public relations and membership for the Insurance Council of Texas in Austin. He adds that many consumers shop for insurance without getting the full picture.

Just this year, Google launched a new site that lets users in California compare price alone for policies. In theory, online policy shopping sounds promising: It helps consumers find a great rate on car insurance, and it gives shoppers a ballpark figure to consider. But this type of guesstimate is more of a stepping-stone to discussions about policy specifics with a seasoned insurance professional.

As many consumers may already know, price alone doesn’t reveal details about differences in coverage and other features, such as vehicle rental in case of an accident or windshield replacement. That’s to say nothing about quality of service. Talking with an expert about what’s covered by your policy (and what’s not) is invaluable. And there’s no comparison when it comes to finding an agent you can trust. Since company participation in Google Compare is based on a flexible pricing model, and because Google takes a profit of the final sale, many companies have opted not to participate — including Texas Farm Bureau Insurance — and instead hope to win over customers with more lasting virtues such as quality coverage and options, customer ¬Ü service, community values, and company stability. Insurance is a personal matter, and companies like Texas Farm Bureau Insurance believe that finding the right policy should be about the relationship and quality coverage as much as the price tag.

“Price plays a huge role in choosing insurance, but the concern for any consumer should be when it comes time to pay a claim or if you have a question, how quickly will the company respond and how [good] will the service be,” explains Hanna, who has spent more than 20 years in the industry. “Google Compare, like any other online service, seeks basic information on your property but lacks any advice on your overall needs. There are a lot of details in any insurance policy, and it is a wise person who seeks advice on what insurance is necessary.”

Shopping Around

The Insurance Council of Texas’ Mark Hanna shares his tips for picking your policies: Ask people how well their insurance companies respond.

  • Ask people how well their insurance companies respond.
  • Compare the coverage and protection to that of other policies.
  • Make sure the company you choose responds promptly to inquiries.
  • Access the Texas Department of Insurance’s website ( to view the company’s complaint ratio and avoid companies with high ratios, which generally indicates a problem handling claims.
  • Check the financial status of any company. You want a company that will be around for a long time, no matter how bad and widespread any event or weather catastrophe might be.

Selecting an insurance company and agent you can trust makes all the difference with a new policy. That’s why Texas Farm Bureau Insurance stands apart from the rest — its dedication to families and communities. With Texas Farm Bureau Insurance, it’s not about signing a piece of paper; it’s about starting a relationship, and anyone who has ever been burned by online insurance shopping can attest to the importance of finding a company with a stellar reputation.

Ⓒ 2015 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance.