Back in 1999, when I returned to the family business with my dad and sister, our business was not incorporated. The Internet was a budding phenomenon at the time, so I offered to take responsibility for using it to find out how to incorporate our business.

I found a site that provided the steps to incorporation, and I followed the instructions. I remember feeling uneasy that there wasn’t a live person readily available. Incorporation seemed like a complicated task, but I was determined to make it work.

I thought, “It’s the Internet; anything is possible.” I also thought, “What happens if something goes wrong?” Well, it did. The state didn’t waste any time in letting me know I didn’t submit all the required forms. I still don’t know exactly what I missed or how it went wrong. That was the last time I used the Internet for something that would have been better handled by a live professional.

Call it a bias, but this story illustrates how I feel about shopping for insurance on the Internet.

The Internet isn’t the answer to everything

I’ve been confronted countless times by clients who think they can get a better deal or product online. The Internet is great for research and due diligence, without question, but I will always maintain that professional services require personal service. Why would you want a digital template that is only going to fit you into a box?

When I see people shopping online for insurance, I often see two negative results:

  1. They get a quote, like it, and book it. However, due to the review process and underwriting, the quote may not be what the company ends up charging. A multitude of variables can change that quote. For example, someone’s motor vehicle record (MVR) or health history may not be reported accurately, leading to a higher charge than was expected.
  2. Nothing bad happens, an insurance plan is chosen, and all appears to be right in the universe—until the person tries to file a claim and finds out that the situation isn’t covered by that plan.

Whatever the outcome for you, do yourself a favor and call on a professional to assist you in getting the best plan for your specific needs. You’ll be able to avoid these pitfalls, and you’ll have someone there for you who can answer your questions along the way.

One last tip: Ask a few friends or family members for insurance agent recommendations. I’ve found people are very willing to share both horror stories and praise for professional service providers. A personal recommendation is a hundred times more valuable than any online review.

Insurance Quotes: Insurance Brokers vs. Online Quotes
Auto, Property Insurance: Buying First Insurance Plans
Health Insurance for the Self-Employed
Pools and Hot Tubs: What Kind of Homeowners Insurance Do You Need?
Eight Auto Insurance Discounts You May Be Missing

Linda Rey is a licensed insurance agent at Rey Insurance with a broad spectrum of expertise in life, accident, health, property and casualty insurance as well as retirement planning and college funding strategies.

Follow Linda on Twitter.