… but what does “Best Price” actually mean?
Same procedure as every year. Yes, it is this time of year again which signals end-of-year rally all around. As far as car insurances in Germany are concerned, the latest possible date to swap one’s insurance for a seemingly better one is 30th November. Which is why since at least the middle of October we have been getting bombarded with news, be it online, radio or print, telling us to change our insurance policy, i.e. the insurance provider, and where to go. To quote from the film “Dinner for one”, a blockbuster in Germany but rather unknown in the United Kingdom, although it is a very British slapstick film: We’ll try and do our very best … in explaining the basic outlines of car insurances to you.
Does better inevitably mean cheaper? One myth can be done eradicated immediately, and that is that a clever person can save up to 3,000 Euro per annum by changing his or her car insurance. After all, the average rate per annum for a car insurance amounts to something like 700 Euro. So, how save 3,000 Euro? An impossible and misleading teaser offer.
On a more academic and realistic basis the “Goslar Diskurs” in Cologne tried to bring some light into the darkness of the insurance jungle. Six professionals from the realm of journalism, academia, industry and of course insurance.
One thing became clear right from the outset: Car insurances always have to take online portals into account. Not only the Swabians and the Scottish watch their pennies and are therefore looking for alternatives to reduce their annual contributions, and therefore increasingly avail themselves of the Internet. In fact, Professor Horst Müller-Peters from the Institute of Insurance Industry in Cologne (IVW), states a rapid increase in online contracts. In a study for the Goslar Institute, an institution of the HUK-Coburg insurance group, he emphasised that “even at the conclusion of automobile insurance policies there is no way around the Internet.”
It is a matter of course that customers today first browse the internet to compare offers. And many of them conclude a direct online contract without having spoken to an insurance agent, let alone met one face to face.
For the insurance companies, a lot is at stake, because for them, the automobile sector has always been considered a dooropener with which they hope to conclude other contracts with new customers. The automotive business, therefore, is highly competitive, even though it has for years run a deficit. Per euro of income, companies on an average
have to pay 1.15 Euro caused by damage and costs. Because the storms of the recent past have not only shaken the building but also the vehicle insurances.
It is not least due to such influences that insurance premiums frequently rise even though the personal risk characteristics – as for example the no-claims bonus – have improved. To counter this development, clever contemporaries just as the energy and tourism sectors avail themselves of the information of relevant Internet portals to compare prices and services in the hope of finding more favourable solutions.
Between 2007 and today, the amount of online car policies has increased from nine to 23 per cent. At the same time, the number of vehicle owners who approached an insurance agent or a broker decreased from 75 to just above 40 per cent. 37 instead of the previous 16 per cent of customers now use both the internet and the traditional way, i.e. they gather informadtion from the Internet, but conclude a contract offline. Experts expect that especially the younger generation that grew up with the internet will increasingly sign their contracts online. “The digital consumer is revolutionising the car insurance market” was a preliminary conclusion drawn by Müller-Peters.
By changing one’s insuranc, it is indeed possible to save up to 100 Euro on an average. But for doing so, one needs to spend hours if not days in the internet to compare a multitude of offers in detail. However, no comparison portal can provide full market transparency, because none of these portals has all of the companies with all tariffs on offer. What is more, the portal providers are quite obviously pursuing their own interests. Evident proof are commissions of an extent to cause tears to well in the eyes of many a seasoned sales representatives.
Autoversicherung.de, and preisvergleich.de (comparing prices) is present with various subtitles and acts increasingly aggressive in negotiating more favourable terms of a broad appeal. www.nafi-auto.de provides a useful overview. It is a software provider for brokers allowing the consumer to gather information without being able to conclude an insurance policy. In other words: After consulting nafi-auto.de the consumer still has to got to a broker who works with the insurance company of his choice, or alternatively turn to the homepage of the chosen insurance.
To sum up: Better does not automatically cheaper. And to find out about the ratio money
towards related service via the Internet a lot of time is needed. More often than not saving money is not really a bargain, as it means less service. Money presents from an insurance are for those who still naively believe in Father Christmas. They might be all the more disillusioned afterwards when they discover their “cheap” insurance turns out very expensive after all, as it will not cover a damage incurred.
Susanne Roeder and HCR
Preisvergleiche von Auto-Versicherungen via Internet sind sehr mühsam, weil unübersichtlich und extrem zeitraubend. Niemand sollte sich dem Trugschluss hingeben, die in manchen Lockvogelofferten vollmundig in Aussicht gestellten, bis zu vierstelligen Beträge sparen zu können. Und auch den umfassenden Versicherungsschutz zum Nulltarif kann selbst das virtuelle Zeitalter (noch) nicht bieten.