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Home Insurance Calculator: Shop Around, Save Money, and Mock the “Experts”

According to this recent piece in Fox News, home insurance rates are on the rise.  That’s bad.  But the article then goes on to say that hope is not lost; there are ways homeowners can reduce their home insurance premiums.  They can, for example, “shop around,” “calculate your insurance needs,” and “choose a high-deductible plan.”  There’s just one problem.  Aside from choosing a high-deductible plan, these pieces of advice are a lot easier said than done.

After all, homeowners know they should shop around.  They know they should calculate their insurance needs.  But they don’t.  And why is that?  Because it’s hard, it’s confusing, and it’s time-consuming.  Until….(drum roll)….now.  Introducing Home Insurance Calculator, a web site equipped with tools, resources, and information to help homeowners choose an affordable plan without the hassle.

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Home Insurance Calculator consists of it’s crown jewel – the calculator itself – on the home page (which we’ll get to later), plus a Home Insurance Guide, Home Insurance Comparison page, information on a state-by-state basis, FAQ, Glossary, and Blog.  So before we dig into the calculator itself, let’s take a quick spin at the Homeowners Insurance Guide page.  But before we do, a quick tangent.  Ever see those “man on the street” interviews that Jay Leno used to do, whereby they’d ask random people on the street simple questions like, “Who’s the Vice President?” or “What does the DMV stand for?”  Eight out 10 times, sadly, people look rather foolish.  And our point is this: if the average person doesn’t know these basic things, how are they supposed to comprehend the complexities of home insurance?  It gets even scarier when your hard-earned dollars are at stake.  All of this makes the Homeowners Insurance Guide so helpful.  It spells out the ins and outs of home insurance simply and without the legalese that makes your head spin.

For example, under “Forms of Insurance,” it describes HO-2 Home Insurance like this: “Normally, this is where your form search will start.  It covers your house and personal belongings as long as the damage occurs as a result of pre-determined causes.”   Even I understand that!!  Better yet, if it’s greater detail you crave, you can simply check out the pages devoted to each specific form of insurance, like the HO-1 policy page here.

So, just by taking five minutes to review the Homeowners Insurance Guide, you’ll be equipped for the nitty-gritty: actually shopping around.  So I entered my zip code into the calculator – which again, is found on the home page – and was instantly greeted with eight carriers in my home state.  I went to each page, got my respective quotes, and – tada! – realized I officially “shopped around.”  And it only took, what, 20 minutes?  Imagine if I shopped around the old-fashioned way via the telephone; one could quickly understand why so many homeowners want to compare providers, but don’t – without an online tool to guide the process, it’s a pain.

Home Insurance Calculator Map

So, to recap thus far.  In less than the time it takes to cook dinner, we’ve been able to quickly ramp up on home insurance basics, shop around across multiple carriers, and limit our search to a handful of carriers.  You’d be forgiven to think you’re done, but there’s one more step – one that Home Insurance Calculator acknowledges in its FAQ page.  Specifically, this step involves understanding the specific, random, and confusing details that may significantly influence your rates.  For example, the FAQ page addresses important questions like “”My insurance company does not pay for a claim another company would pay.  What can I do?” and “”Which elements of a home insurance policy are the most important?”  In other words, if the insurance “devil” is in the details, consider this page a kind of exorcist.

This bring us back to the Fox News page with their helpful tips.  We’re grateful someone took the time to spell them out, but when reading the article, the cynic in us can’t help but say, “Duh!”   For example, an “expert” in the aforementioned article noted – brace yourselves – “You want to take a look and see what’s out there.  You may save money going to another company, or you may not.”  Wow – who knew?

Our point is this: ideas like “saving money,” “shopping around,” and “seeing what’s out there” are easy to conceptualize and agree upon in theory.  It’s actually doing it in the real world that’s difficult, which is why, well, no one actually does it.  Fortunately, Home Insurance Calculator changes the dynamic.  It allows homeowners to quickly and easily shop around, educate themselves, and save money in the process.  It may even put a few so-called “experts” out of business.

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4AutoInsuranceQuote: Helpful Guidance to Navigate the No-Man’s Land of Auto Insurance

As everyone knows, the Founding Fathers weren’t too keen on “the common folk.”  They didn’t trust them.  The “masses” were rude, unwashed, uneducated, and an unruly lot.  This is why we have checks and balances, the Electoral College, and lifetime Supreme Court justices.  And, I must say, time has proved the Founders to be relatively prescient.  When left to their own devices, the “masses” can do some seriously dumb stuff – just look at, say, the Whiskey Rebellion, the French Revolution, and the baffling rise of One Direction.

But sometimes the “masses” can prove to be valuable.  After all, isn’t that what social media is based on – the insight of friends, colleagues, and folks who have had similar experiences?  This is why we love sites like Yelp, Stack Overflow, and Amazon’s product review page.  And wouldn’t it be nice if there was a site where you could parlay peoples’ experiences in the complicated world of auto insurance?  Again: wouldn’t that be nice?  Well, with its cool Forum feature, 4AutoInsuranceQuote does precisely that.  It’s good stuff, and it’s our feature today.

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Now before we dive into the “crowd-sourced” component of 4AutoInsuranceQuote, let’s first look at what else it provides.  Because it’s a pretty movable feast here.  The site has an easy-to-use quote calculator tool that can save you hundreds of dollars by the time you finish…reading…this…sen.…tence.  It has a blog, learning center, and a glossary to help you read up on auto insurance concepts – and impress your date in the process.  It also allows you to search auto insurance regulations and requirements by state, all Federalist-style which – again, a shout-out to my boy James Madison – is what our country is based on.  Each of these tools on their own is worthy of praise, but since we now live in a world where you can spend thousands of dollars on, say, a vacation rental based on the recommendations of complete strangers, I’d like to focus on the Forum.

The Forum is cool because auto insurance is seemingly infinite in its complexity.  One plan can trigger dozens of different outcomes.  Different cars can yield different plans.  Different locations can yield different rates.  It’s some deep, quantum physics stuff.  Makes you wonder if “reality” is even really real.  And because of that, sometimes auto insurance answers cannot be tidily explained – an additional layer of detail is needed and a personalized response is required.  This is why the Forum is cool.  So let’s take an example.  Word on the street is that Hondas are the most-stolen car.  (Word on the street also says that “most-stolen” is likely bad grammar.)  So here, in the Forum, an individual asks, “What’s the insurance for a 17 year old in Florida buying a 2009 Honda Civic 2-door coupe?”  The answer is “it depends” (as are most answers in life), but the Forum also provides some helpful contextual information, noting that the 2009 Honda Civic has great safety ratings, which can help lower rates.  The more safety features, the greater the discount.

4AutoInsuranceQuotes Quote

The Forum also recognizes the differences in auto insurance and enforcement rules by state.  So this poor sap, in another example, was caught without insurance in the great state of Massachusetts.  In the process, we learn that Massachusetts offenders will receive at least a fine of $500 and a 60-day suspended license.  Bummer.  We also learned that due to high traffic congestion and poor roads, Massachusetts auto insurance rates are abnormally high.  (But oh, that chowdah!!!)  Needless to say, the information was quite useful.  (That said, the responses left our poor sap rattled.  His most recent response was traced to a seedy Internet cafe just south of Tijuana.)

So, in summary, does the 4AutoInsuranceQuote Forum have all the answers?  No.  It probably can’t tell you “who made God,” much less why you “drive on parkways and park on driveways.”  But it provides tremendous value in addressing the “no-man’s land” of auto insurance: the space where broad concepts and sheer numbers fail to account for the intricacies and complexities of unique situations.  Again, this is valuable because – spoiler alert! – life is messy.  Throw in its other available tools – the learning center, glossary, blog, and of course, the auto insurance calculator – and 4AutoInsuranceQuote is enough to make the Founding Fathers smile a big group-smile, flashing those disgusting, rotting wooden teeth of theirs.  Ugh…gross.

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Insurance Panda: Your One-Stop Auto Insurance Resource (With a Really Cool Mascot Too)

When you hear the term “insurance panda,” some thoughts may come to mind.  For example, you may surmise (and hope) that Geico ditched that annoying talking Aussie lizard, put up some billboards inside the panda den at the National Zoo, and gave the beloved Mei Xiang a name-change: the insurance panda.  But alas, that’s not the case.  (Apparently Geico’s marketing department has charts to prove that customers love being barraged by an annoying talking Aussie lizard.)  But there is good news, and it’s this: there’s a site that acts as an auto insurance clearinghouse, enabling cost-conscious drivers to educate themselves around various providers (including the aforementioned Geico) save money, and do so all without legal mumbo-jumbo.  And it just so happens to be called Insurance Panda.  What are the odds?

Insurance Panda Home

To these eyes, Insurance Panda is a lot like a JD Power, but for auto insurers.  You know JD Powers, don’t you?  They are the folks that objectively rate cars, whether it’s around comfort, safety, value, etc.  Over the years they’ve become the go-to guys (and gals) if you want an honest shake regarding a new or used car.  And what makes JD Power – and by extension, Insurance Panda – so valuable?  Information.  Because information is (JD) power.  (Whoa!)

Let us explain.

Insurance Panda is structured such that viewers can glean useful information in a quick and understandable way.  Again, no proverbial lawyers lurking over the proceedings.  Let’s take their Insurance Guide.  It’s broken up across six key sub-categories, a few of which we’ll highlight here, starting with Car Insurance Quotes.  Here the Panda (not sure if it’s a guy or a girl) will determine your auto quote via its calculator by considering the following information: your car, your driving record, your vehicle history, your credit score, and your neighborhood.  Its back-end algorithm shakes up the information and spits out a quote that you can live (or not) live with.  If it’s too steep, you can tweak the premiums and deductibles and such to get something more appetizing.  This part is cool because, naturally, it saves you time.  I mean, we use aggregation tools everyday to find the cheapest deal – be it flights on Kayak, hotels on Orbitz, etc. – and now we can do the same on Insurance Panda.

But massaging premiums and deductibles and such isn’t as easy as we so cavalierly made it sound.  That is, you need to know what affects what – a decimal point here and there, and suddenly we’re talking real money.  And Insurance Panda’s Car Insurance Comparison page gives you the tools to intelligently tweak the numbers.  (After all, just because the Panda appears to be chewing straw doesn’t mean he/she’s not working hard for you.)  Then, of course, there are the auto insurance companies themselves.  Insurance Panda’s Car Insurance Companies page lists them all on one page, each with their customer satisfaction score as pulled from insure.com.  These scores take a look at the average score for each insurance company’s claims processing, customer service, value for price, and additional factors (including, perhaps, insidious reptilian mascots.)

Insurance Panda Map

Now let’s do a quick thought experiment.  Let’s say you were starting from scratch in terms of finding auto insurance.  It’d go like this.  First, you’d call, say, State Farm.  You’d be on the phone for 35 minutes (if you’re lucky), get your quote, write down the information, and hang up.  Then you’d call Allstate and do the same.  Then you’d call Nationwide.  Then Geico.  Then Progressive.  Perhaps by this point you’d make a nifty little spreadsheet comparing stuff.  Except, actually, you’re terrible at spreadsheets and you accidentally pressed a button that deleted everything!  Oh, but then you pressed another button and recovered it!  Next, you narrowed your choice down to, say, three contenders, but want to understand how minor tweaks to your plan can affect your rates.  So you Google “how minor tweaks to your plan affect your rates.”  The Google Search results are uninspiring.  You’re demoralized.  You’re hungry.  You want a sandwich.

With Insurance Panda, however, you can do all of these steps on one web page, and do it much quicker, and do it for free.  And that’s why we like it, and that’s why, if you’re considering a new auto plan, or looking to change an existing one, you owe it to yourself to give it a spin (get it?  Spin?)  And as a bonus, there will be no annoying, almost patronizing mascots to deal with.

Which brings us to our final point.  In addition to providing scintillating start-up features, SlapStart occasionally gives illuminating marketing advice, free of charge.  And last we checked Panda Express, the fast-food Chinese chain, had a panda as their mascot.  But check it out – it’s kinda lame.  (And besides “Panda Express” makes no sense.  Pandas move slowly.  What’s next – Tortoise Lightning?  Sloth Blitzkrieg?)  Anyway, our point: there’s ample opportunity here for the Insurance Panda to corner the “erudite, accountant-like” mascot market.  I’m thinking bifocals, a clipboard, and maybe a nice Cardigan sweater.  That’s gold, baby, gold!