Auto Insurance Consumers Shop for Price, if They Shop at All

An overwhelming majority of auto insurance buyers who switch carriers make the change based on price, but not many are actively shopping around, according to a survey from

In a national telephone survey of 1,000 adults conducted in early November by Princeton Data Source for, within the past 12 months only 21 percent of those surveyed say they shopped for car insurance. Of those shoppers, 43 percent switched carriers. The vast majority who switched, 81 percent, made the change because of price.

“This suggests that many people who shopped around liked what they found,” says John Egan, managing editor of in a statement. “Consumers don’t care as much about customer service or reputation—they want to know who’s going to save them the most money. Everyone should take an hour or two to compare a few different carriers. It can’t hurt, and you might be amazed by how much money you can save.”

The survey found that when it comes to how people shopped, most were most comfortable speaking with a live human being.

The most popular way to shop for car insurance was by telephone (54 percent of respondents). Online shopping was second at 48 percent, followed by 39 percent speaking to someone in person or dealing with an agent.

In an interview, Egan says this result surprised him because of the popularity of online services. However, the result underscores the fact that people are comfortable using multiple forms of communication, and insurers need to be conscious of that, he says.

“With the telephone, people just want some sort of interaction; it’s human nature,” says Egan. But the overlap of percentage results also indicates the popularity of multiple shopping avenues.

As far as the extent of their shopping, 59 percent of car insurance shoppers obtained three or more quotes. Thirty-three percent of shoppers obtained three price quotes, while 26 percent obtained four or more quotes.

When asked why more people aren’t shopping for insurance, Egan notes that buying auto insurance is something people don’t want to give a lot of thought to and many find policy language confusing. But he says a car is a major purchase, and consumers need to know what insurance they are buying. This is something agents can help their clients with by educating them on their policy and re-examining insurance needs each year.

For carriers, the lesson from the survey, says Egan, is that one size does not fit all.

“Customers want to interact in different ways,” says Egan. “Price is definitely what consumers keep in mind, but it’s not the same with all consumers.”  


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