Online insurance – worth your effort?

Shopping for cars and insurance online should be as easy as buying CDs and books on the web, right? CARtoday.com went snooping for the best premiums and service online, and here’s what we found.




Shopping for cars and insurance online should be as easy as buying CDs and books on the web, right? CARtoday.com went snooping for the best premiums and service online, and here’s what we found.


Some telephone quotes lower than e-quotes

Tasked with finding vehicle insurance for a six-year-old Toyota Conquest driven by a 22-year-old, I soon discovered that, other than Dial Direct, Budget, Auto and General and OUTsurance, most companies and brokerages do not provide much support for internet consumers. These companies provided facilities allowing you to leave your details for someone to contact you, or have an e-quote (electronically-generated quote) sent to your inbox. However, I generally found the more laborious follow-up telephonic quote to be dramatically lower than the e-quote.

Service from three of the four companies offering e-quotes was prompt and efficient, with one telephone call received within seconds of sending the e-mail. Depending on how well the consultant knew his/her lines, call durations varied from about ten minutes to 25 minutes. However, it was really difficult to digest all of the information provided over the telephone, though some agents were more succinct than others, painlessly guiding me through the most important parts.

When interrupting one unsuspecting call centre agent’s discourse with a query as to why over-25s consistently paid lower insurance premiums than younger individuals, the prompt response was “over-25-year-olds are more responsible, under-25-year-olds are more irresponsible”. I can’t say that it’s the most scientific argument I’ve ever heard, but it seems to work for them…

Luckily, all four offered to either e-mail or mail further details of the policy for leisurely perusal, though some of the consultants were disconcertingly pushy when it came to accepting their “obligation-free quote”.

The service from OUTsurance though, was inefficient. The e-quote never arrived and I received my first call roughly five hours after the initial query was sent. I offered to return the consultant’s call the following day, only to have all of my calls unanswered. I then completed another request page on-line, only to be contacted two days later (excluding a weekend) by another consultant.

Thankfully, I received the quote this time round, though I was contacted again exactly one week later by the original consultant. Sweet, but sad nevertheless… Especially if you need to be insured in a hurry, someone responding to you after a week is just not half good enough.

Companies not providing on-line support at all should receive an honourable “Notgivadamia” mention for being non-respondents. Of the list, including SA Eagle, Mutual and Federal, Hollard, Direct Axis and Santam, only Santam and Hollard provided any response to my e-mail queries. A Santam representative had the courtesy to reply to my mail about an hour later, notifying me that a consultant would be in contact shortly. Well, the consultant called me on the following Monday (the initial e-mail was sent on the Thursday) and when asked to call back at a later hour, he simply did not!

No response from Direct Axis nor SA Eagle

At the time of this report, neither Direct Axis nor SA Eagle had got back to me about my query so, for that exact reason, I would not recommend their services to anyone. The query to Mutual a

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