Steven Aldrich came up with the idea for Intuit's InsureMarket Web site when he was a graduate student at Stanford Business School. The site, which is rapidly becoming a popular way for smart consumers to purchase insurance, allows users to receive instant quotes that match their personal profiles. Here are his tips for buying insurance on the Web.
- Make sure the quote you get from the carrier accounts for all of your health and risk conditions. If you're an avid scuba diver, a Web questionnaire may not take that into account, so they might quote you a different rate than the one you'll eventually qualify for. It might be a bait and switch.
- Answer questions truthfully. Carriers are really good at ferreting out any fiction. The worst scenario would be if you lied and were discovered when you submit a claim. Your claim could be denied, even if you've been paying premiums all along.
- Consider the level of service and advice that you need. The Web is fine if you're just looking for the best price and you're able to make decisions on your own. But if you want a relationship with a local agent who can stay with you over time and maintain personal contact, you might want to do business offline.
- Always research the financial stability of an insurance carrier using ratings like those from Standard and Poor's, available at Insurance News Network (http://www.insure.com/ratings/index.html). And ask the carrier about its 24-hour service capabilities -- you're not always going to get into an accident between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM.
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