Consumers may want the cheapest insurance rates, but the agents at Carolina Planning Insurance will tell them the cheapest rate may not be the bargain they think it is, if it doesn’t provide secure coverage. In reality, cheap online auto insurance quotes are the antithesis of what people want, yet ads for those products are relentlessly aired by dozens of companies on television and the internet.
When questioned about their decision making process, consumers we spoke to echo the sentiments of Optician Marcus McNeill, owner of SEEK Eye Care who says, “No one can make their best decision without enough information. Just give me the information that I need and I’ll make the decision.” So says Craig and Heather Jones, the couple who co-own and manage Carolina Planning Insurance, their award winning local agency in Fayetteville, NC.
Heather Jones puts it this way, “Our main motivation is to help people avoid pitfalls in insurance coverage. We aim to provide excellent information because acquiring insurance is a necessity that people purchase to institute a transfer of risk. If the policy is not set up properly, that transfer does not occur and the policy holders suffer the risk they thought was covered. “
While rates are constantly changing and competition is fierce, the principles of good business remain the same. The intent may not be malicious, but online quotes suggest that once prospective customers find an internet quote, they can click, switch, save money and get the same coverage. However, cheap is cheap for a reason and things may not work out that way.
Craig Jones feels that in rare circumstances it may be possible to get an effective cheap online rate, but it is not probable. When consumers get one quote from one company without the benefit of an informed professional’s perspective, they can’t be sure all of their risk is covered. If they omit one or two pieces of information, they could easily end up with the wrong policy.
Co-owner Heather Jones states, “As independent agents we can shop multiple good carriers to find the best fit for each consumer’s situation. Additionally, and this is important to people, the way the policy is structured can drastically affect the premiums. We know of ‘niche’ companies that do not market directly to consumers. We frequently offer people more coverage for less money because they qualify for unadvertised discounts.”
The industry has made it almost mandatory that agencies provide an online quote, so Carolina Planning has it available on their website. However, on that same site, they caution that because each situation is unique, prospective customers may not know the right questions to ask. Craig and Heather Jones will ask the right questions and once they get the answers they match up the coverage. At that point prospects can make an informed decision.
They realize their agency appeal comes from the fact that, because of their experience and caring, they can find the best coverage at the best price for drivers with perfect records, less than perfect records and sometimes certain loan requirements. As more and more consumers are finding, bigger is not necessarily better. A smaller local agency that will take the time to uncover important details can be exactly the bargain consumers are looking to find.
The couple’s process begins with a consultative interview in which they ask questions that most prospective customers don’t think about. This usually leads to information that would not have been considered, and successful coverage would not likely have resulted. There are few things worse than thinking a policy covered something and in reality, it didn’t. Craig and Heather Jones have developed and maintain relationships with the top companies and they know the top ten that can handle each situation, narrow it down to three choices with the consumer and finally match up the niche that does the most for that consumer’s situation.
The challenge for Craig and Heather Jones is that everyone wants the most they can get for the least investment. Many times they find the perfect match. Sometimes consumers just have to pay the price for what they want, but they strive to get them the best coverage within their price range.