So yesterday I spent quite a bit of time on the phone, shopping for auto insurance. My husband is one of those people who shops prices regularly in order to make sure we have the best deal. I on the other hand think it's a good idea to leave well enough alone. But hey, who listens to me? So yesterday I dutifully called companies to compare prices on our current coverage.
You know, all the bigger companies work hard in their advertising to get you to identify with their product. You can choose from a Progressive devotee in a weird white room, a charming gecko with a cockney accent, or a deep voiced man who assures you that you're in good hands. Before you've ever contacted any of these companies you've already built a relationship with their spokesperson (er, reptile.) You like them. They make you laugh or they make you trust them to the point where you don't want to let them down.
But sometimes reality is a far cry from advertising. Two of the companies I called apparently have robots to man their customer service phones. These robots spoke in monotones, clearly reading from scripts. They asked me about my vehicles, and then gave me the prices they offered. There was no attempt to actually sell me a policy. They didn't seem to make that connection. They simply gave me the information I asked for as if they were a 411 operator. When their prices were higher than what I'm currently paying, they didn't attempt to explain why their company was a better deal in other ways. (I'm not saying that kind of thing would have sold me, but they should at least make the attempt, shouldn't they?)
The third company I called was at least friendly as we went through my information. She chatted with me and actually made a somewhat painful experience almost pleasant. At least it was pleasant right up until she quoted me a price that was twice as much as what I'm paying now. Seriously. Twice as much.
The fourth company I got hold of someone who really believed in what he had to sell. He acted as though he were genuinely interested in me as a person. I don't see how he could not be when he's asking questions about what I drive and where I live and what I do for a living. He probably knows more about me now than my average friend does.
Which leads me to another point. Some of their questions seem awfully strange things to consider when quoting a policy. Does my education level really have any connection to my driving ability? How does my marital status affect my skill in operating a vehicle? Why do they need to know if I've had a driver's license since I was sixteen?
It seems to me that, if they're going to ask those kinds of questions they ought to ask ones that are more relevant. For instance, they should ask if I have a lot of friends. If I do, you'd think I'd be much more likely to be talking on the phone or texting while driving which means I'm more prone to get in an accident. Why don't they ask if I color my hair? Someone who is vain about their looks is more likely to be looking in the mirror and applying makeup than paying attention to what's in front of her. Why don't they ask how many kids I have? The more children in the car, the more chance of refereeing a fight at the same time you're driving. Definitely distracting behavior. They should want to know if I'm late all the time. That kind of behavior could cause reckless speed or the lack of use of a safety belt.
Not that I do any of those things.
So anyway I spent a couple of hours yesterday confirming the fact that, yes, we're paying the lowest possible payment we could get on car insurance. By several hundred dollars. For the next few weeks I'm avoiding the car commercials. I don't want to know if the gecko is disappointed in me.