Buying auto insurance through a local, independent insurance agent is better than doing it through Walmart, according to the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA). The group expressed skepticism regarding a claim that customers in a pilot program experienced average savings of more than $1,100 a year on auto insurance purchased through an online service promoted in Walmart stores. “As an average saving, that figure sounds unrealistic,” said PIA National Executive Vice President & CEO Mike Becker. “Walmart says that the system it is using compares rates on an existing policy with rates on policies with the same coverage. If that is the case, we are skeptical that the average price difference for the same level of coverage can be that large.”
Walmart says it is bringing one-stop shopping to the insurance industry. But consumers can already shop for auto insurance in one stop – by consulting a Main Street professional insurance agent, whose only business is insurance. Independent insurance agents can shop many different insurance companies and provide consumers with advice on obtaining their choice of coverage and price.
Prices on all kinds of insurance policies can vary from company to company, so it does pay to shop around. However, consumers should remember that when it comes to insurance, price is just one factor. The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) advises that consumers should select an insurance company that has a good reputation for settling claims promptly, has good customer service and is financially stable. Independent insurance agents who are members of the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) can offer advice and choices, empowering consumers to make decisions on their own behalf.