I was busy preparing a report at my office when suddenly my phone rang. My boss had warned me that any delay in report submission could hamper my salary appraisal, so I did not want any disturbance. But when my phone’s screen flashed the name of my brother, I got more agitated. It was my brother’s first job, and so it became his daily routine to call and inform me everything about his new office.
That day he also called to tell about a car insurance agent who had just visited his office. Although I was very annoyed, somehow I decided not to disconnect the phone, maybe because I was also interested in buying a car insurance policy. Out of curiosity, my brother also visited the insurance agent who was busy in explaining the importance of insurance to other people. On asking him why we should buy car insurance from him, the agent started talking about his credibility factor and contacts in the insurance company. When my brother further probed and asked about online car insurance, the agent gave a big smile.
Sir, there is a lot of complication in buying a car insurance policy online.
The insurance sector, especially general insurance, has expanded its ambit and brought its services online. However, we Indians still prefer the concept of touch-and-buy and do not readily accept any change. After all, it’s human nature to resist any change; no matters how comfortable the situation might become.
The Big Question: Should You Buy Car Insurance Online or Through an Agent?
You can buy car insurance policies both online and offline. In the case of online, the agent meets with clients, understands their requirements and offers suitable car insurance policies. As the agent is a connecting link between the policyholder and the insurer, he gets a percentage of the premium in the form of commission. It is a traditional way of buying a car insurance policy.
On the contrary, when you purchase the policy online, you get a chance to view different car insurance policies on offer, select the most appropriate plan and make payment directly to the insurer either via credit/debit card or net banking.
Let’s dig into deep to understand the difference between online and offline mode of purchasing car insurance:
- Brand vs individual: While your agent can go missing or forget his promises, an online insurance company won’t do so. Also, when you decide to buy a policy online, you will be able to compare between different insurance policies and know everything in detail, but an agent will not offer this opportunity.
- The probability of mis-selling: While buying a car insurance policy online, you can read all terms and conditions related to the policy. Even you can take print out or keep a screenshot of the transaction. Hence, there is a negligible chance of fraud. However, when you decide to buy an insurance offline, there is a high probability that the agent might mould terms and conditions to extract money from you. In most of the cases, complaints arise due to mis-selling of the agent. According to the Consumer Affairs Annual Booklet of IRDAI, there were 78,927 non-life complaints in 2012-13.
- Cost: One of the main benefits of online shopping is the low cost for the insurance company. The absence of distribution cost and agents are passed on to the customer in the form of low It creates a win-win situation for insurance companies as they keep a better margin and offer a low price to consumers.
- Convenience: Online car insurance policies offer you convenience which is not present in the offline mode. The entire online car insurance process is hassle-free and accessible 24×7. You can easily purchase the policy online from the comfort of your home or office. This convenience is not available if you buy your policy from an agent.
Now, What Next?
Even if you are not comfortable with an online purchase or trying it for the first time, there is no reason to ignore it. It is just a perception that insurance needs a lot of assistance. However, it is wrong because individuals can do this by themselves also and it just needs a little time and consideration. Almost every insurance company has its toll-free number on which you can call and discuss your queries. Some insurers even offer online chat facility to give a better understanding of insurance policies. All these measures will help in sifting the wheat from the chaff and give a clear picture.
A Golden Advice
Most of us will be discouraged by our insurance agents to go online and check for an insurance policy. After all, they will lose their commission. However, you should act diligently. Though an agent might do all your paperwork and all you need to do is just sign on the dotted lines, it is a wrong practice. In such cases, there are more chances of misrepresentations, affecting your claim. On the other hand, the advantages of online are much more. So, next time whenever you come across to a car insurance agent who tells you that taking an online car insurance plan is not a good move, make sure to teach them a lesson which you got here!
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