News flash! We hear that Wal-Mart has decided to go into the auto insurance market. Well, I sure hope that they know what they are undertaking. Years ago, Sears had booths in their retail stores in which they, too, tried to sell car insurance. Do these retailers really believe that they can bring the same value and expertise to the insurance buying public as tried and true agents?
Most consumers eventually come to the conclusion that with direct companies there is no personal relationship, no guidance and no assistance in time of trouble. Sometimes it takes a lot of negative experience to make a customer realize just what they give up when they purchase insurance “ on the cheap.”
The fact is that when you deal with your agent, it is he or she that provides a quote, explains the meaning and importance of certain limits and coverages, answers your questions, takes your last minute payment, adds or deletes a vehicle, guides you through the claims process and intervenes with the company when a problem arises. There is no substitute for loyal customer service and personal relationships.
The scuttlebutt is that Wal-Mart has partnered with AutoInsurance.com. My take is that both of them obviously needed a boost in revenue and they undoubtedly believe that auto insurance sales are the answer. However, buying insurance online, via Wal-Mart, doesn’t really consider the needs of the consumer, in my opinion. What about the consumer who recognizes the value that comes from agents/brokers who have made the business of insurance their livelihood? Surely, if you have come to depend on your agent to help you navigate the waters of insurance, now is not the time to abandon ship!
By Karen Skoler, CPCU