More Consumers Becoming Aware of Price Optimization

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  • For some time now, many Americans have been growing more concerned about the rising cost of their auto insurance, and are always on the lookout for ways in which they can reduce these costs. And while many insurance agents may be able to provide tips for them to potentially lower their premiums on occasion, one issue that may prevent them from doing so is one that is coming increasingly under scrutiny from consumer groups.

    The concept of price optimization is one that has occasionally been in use by insurance agencies, but which has proven rather controversial, according to a report from the financial news site MarketWatch. This practice, which involves insurers raising rates on people because they don’t think those customers are very likely to shop around is, in part, what allows them to offer such significantly reduced rates to other people who are switching companies.

    What does this mean?
    Often, this happens slowly over time, with rates ticking up slightly every once in a while, but consumer advocates say that it can result in people paying as much as eight times the average premium in their area for people with similar driving records to their own, the report said. However, some states expressly prohibit this practice, and that may be a benefit to those who have stuck with their companies for a while, and also serves to discourage shopping around because many residents there might not be able to get a significantly lower price than what they’re already paying on a monthly or annual basis.

    “Comparison shopping for car insurance now matters more than ever,” Amy Bach, who heads United Policyholders, a San Francisco-based nonprofit consumer advocate, told the site. “Not just because insurers are charging more to consumers who don’t, but also because there really are differences between what competing insurers charge and deliver.”

    When rising prices pose a concern for consumers, it is important for agents to be able to answer all their questions clearly and quickly. That is all just a part of high-quality customer service, and these days it seems consumers may value the ability to rely on receiving that more so than even lower prices on their coverage. Thus, agents who can strike the best balance between these two ideals will typically be the ones that have the best customer service and retention rates.