Ask Stacy: Is It OK to Buy Insurance Online?


What's Hot


2 Types of Black Marks Might Vanish From Your Credit File SoonBorrow

6 Ways the Obamacare Overhaul Might Impact Your WalletInsurance

7 Dumb and Costly Moves Homebuyers MakeBorrow

This Free Software Brings Old Laptops Back to LifeMore

Obamacare Replacement Plan Gets ‘F’ Rating from Consumer ReportsFamily

Beware These 12 Common Money MistakesCredit & Debt

21 Restaurants Offering Free Food Right NowSaving Money

17 Ways to Have More Fun for Less MoneySave

House Hunters: Beware of These 6 Mortgage MistakesBorrow

30 Household Uses for Baby OilSave

25 Ways to Spend Less on FoodMore

Nearly Half of Heart-Related Deaths Linked to These 10 Foods and IngredientsFamily

5 Surprising Benefits of Exercising Outdoors in WinterFamily

10 Ways to Save When You’re Making Minimum WageSave

Boost Your Credit Score Fast With These 7 MovesCredit & Debt

7 Painless Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Years EarlierBorrow

The Most Sinful City in the U.S. Is … (Hint: It’s Not Vegas)Family

The True Cost of Bad CreditCredit & Debt

10 Companies With the Best 401(k) PlansGrow

This Scam Now Tops ID Theft as the No. 2 Consumer ComplaintFamily

6 Stores With Awesome Reward ProgramsFamily

6 Ways to Save More at Lowe’s and The Home DepotSave

6 Healthful Treats for Your DogFamily

New Study Ranks the Best States in the U.S.Family

Thousands of Millionaires Moving to 1 Country — and Leaving AnotherGrow

Strapped for College Costs? How to Get the Most From FAFSABorrow

6 Overlooked Ways to Save at Chick-fil-AFamily

Ask Stacy: What’s the Fastest Way to Pay Off My Mortgage?Borrow

Where to Sell Your Stuff for Top DollarAround The House

8 Ways to Get a Good Price on a Shiny New AutoCars

Ask Stacy: How Do I Start Over?Credit & Debt

Secret Cell Plans: Savings Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint Don’t Want You to Know AboutFamily

30 Awesome Things to Do in RetirementCollege

14 Super Smart Ways to Save on TravelSave

The Rich Prefer Modest Cars — Should You Join Them?Cars

You’ll Soon Pay More to Shop at CostcoSave

10 Ways to Save When Your Teen Starts DrivingFamily

This reader has been told that when it comes to things like insurance, local is better than online and long distance. What do you think?

Although you’d think the entire world is now attuned to shopping for virtually everything online, there are still certain transactions that are best done face-to-face. Is insurance one of them?

Here’s an email I recently received from a reader.

Stacy, I wanted to know your opinion on getting insurance online, as opposed to in the vicinity where you live? I’ve always been told NOT to contract through the internet because claims are harder to make and they’re not very friendly – and don’t really care. Whereas someone in your neighborhood is more personable and quicker to work with. Your answer will depend on where I get my next insurance…
Thank You
Mjxfingers in NH

Here’s your answer, Mjxfingers! (May I call you Mjx?)

This is an interesting question, because it applies to other things as well. For example, just a couple of days ago, I was shooting a series of real-estate stories and, while interviewing an agent, I asked if he’d recommend shopping online for a mortgage.

His response? “While shopping online is fine, I tell my clients never to deal with anyone out of state. These transactions can be complicated, and timing is everything. It’s much easier to stay on top of the paperwork if the paperwork is right here in town.”

That sounds logical. And the advice received by Mjx also makes sense: It would certainly seem that dealing with a claim or other insurance issue would be easier, quicker, and more personable face-to-face than long-distance.

Logical perhaps. But in my experience, not true.

I’ve been dealing with both mortgages and insurance long-distance for many years. Two of my last three mortgages were obtained online from out-of-state mortgage brokers, and while I’ve lived in seven different cities over the last 30 years, my insurance company – USAA – sat there in San Antonio, Texas, the entire time.

Don’t get me wrong: Like romance, face-to-face and local is preferable. But I’ve had successful long-distance romances, and I’ve had successful long-distance business relationships. I’ve also had local romances and business relationships that I truly regretted.

I’m a firm believer that one should support his neighbors whenever possible, whether you’re shopping for a pair of shoes, a mortgage, or an insurance policy. But I shop price and features first. If I can find the best deal locally, I’m down like James Brown. But if I’m best served from Timbuktu, I don’t mind sending my money packing.

When it comes to things like insurance, mortgages, or even shoes, it’s far more important to understand what you’re buying than where headquarters is. Know what you’re looking for, ask questions, and compare price and features. That’s the way to get the best deal on the right product.

I live in South Florida and lost part of my roof when hurricane Wilma blew through town back in 2005.  Although USAA is in Texas, the adjuster they sent came right to my house. Personable? Nicest guy in the world – we actually kept in touch for months afterward.

On the other hand, one of the long-distance mortgage companies I used faxed me paperwork 30 minutes before closing that included a previously undisclosed $400 fee. When I saw it, I called them and told them to fax new paperwork without the fee or I’d refuse to close their loan. They did, and I did.

Bottom line? Whether the person you’re dealing with is online or on the front porch doesn’t matter. What matters is that you’re informed enough to make the right decision and to remain in control of the transaction.  At least, that’s my take. But then again, maybe my opinion doesn’t matter: After all, I’m both online and long distance.

What about you, readers?

By the way, if you agree that shopping for insurance, mortgages, and other stuff online is a good idea, don’t forget our mortgage search, insurance search, and deals page!

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!

💰🗣📰

Read Next: Lookin’ Good! How to Get a Killer Deal on Eyeglasses

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 1,959 more deals!