Getting car insurance can be a hassle, and the option of having somebody else take care of the job for you can be very tempting. But should you hire a car insurance broker? Or stick to getting insurance yourself?
Here are the upsides… and the downside.
Auto insurance brokers are probably the best way to find the best prices. That’s because finding the best prices is their entire job: They have to know each insurer’s quirks and how they weigh each factor to find you the best possible deal. In fact, any broker remotely worth the money will quickly have a sheet out for you to compare and contrast different insurers. Often, brokers will also have contacts or personal relationships with multiple insurance agencies, giving them an extra advantage you may not have if you’re negotiating yourself.
If you just don’t have time to do all the research on each insurer, and many people don’t, a broker does the job for you. So if you need to save time, or just get on the road, and hate dealing with quote sites, a broker is probably going to give you the best possible options.
Of course, unless you are a master negotiator, you are not going to be getting all of this valuable research and inside access for free. Insurance brokers cost money, and the better and more respected they are, the more they’re going to cost. Similarly, those cozy relationships with insurers can work against you: Unethical brokers may push you towards policies that are more expensive because they’ll get a friend (or the broker himself) a fat commission. It would be nice to say this is an uncommon problem, but there are ethics issues in the brokerage field just as there are any other line of work.
Finally, some brokers may not just be right for you. They may not be good at finding high-quality policies for the cars you need insured. So, as in all things, caveat emptor.
So, how to find the upsides without the downsides?
Do Your Research
- Ask a broker you’re considering for references; customers he’s made particularly happy in the past.
- Research each broker online (looking for online reviews and complaints), although be aware that people are more ready with a criticism than they are praise, especially on Internet sites dedicated specifically to criticism.
- Ask your friends and family if they used a broker, and if so, which broker they used. What did they like about the broker? What didn’t they like? Would they use this broker again?
- Ask your dealer what brokers they’ve heard good things about, and which brokers they work with. Often the dealer has a handful of brokers they trust and work closely with. If they don’t, ask your salesman what broker he used to find his car insurance.
- Finally and most importantly, trust your gut. If you don’t think this broker is right for you… then he’s not right for you. If you do your research and trust your instincts, you’ll find a broker can be an incredibly handy guy to have around.