UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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Have you ever gone online to find car insurance, typed in your details, found a rate that you’re happy with and found that it changes before you can actually accept? Maybe you went away for a while, or maybe you just got up to make a tea. Either way, you’re now being charged more for the exact same car, driven by the exact same person with the exact same circumstances… What’s going on?
One possibility, depending on the insurer, is that they are trying to get you to pay more now that you have shown an interest. What happens here, is that when you look online at the insurance quotes, some small files will have been saved on your computer’s browser called ‘cookies’. These cookies can then be used to identify you as a user, so that when you come back later, the website knows that it’s you and it can see all of your activity on the site up until then.
In short, this then means that the insurer’s website knows that you’ve expressed an interest in car insurance. That means that you’re a captive audience and that means that they can potentially get away with charging you more! The same thing happens for holidays and even some physical products on ecommerce stores.
The best way to get around this, is to shop for your auto insurance using your browser’s ‘in private’ or ‘incognito’ mode. This will let you browse the web without any cookies being stored on your machine and that means that websites won’t be able to identify repeat visitors and jack up their prices accordingly.
Using price comparison sites can also help you to avoid this issue, as you are not actually visiting the website itself and so you aren’t having the cookies stored on your computer.
Another possibility is that your circumstances may have changed, even if you don’t realize it!
Car insurers will calculate their premiums based on risk. Their ideal scenario is that you take out car insurance, never have an accident and then cancel when you’re old and grey. That way, you’ve paid into the account for your lifetime and never cost them anything!
But most people will have an accident at some point in their lives and the probability of this happening is at least partly determined by numerous demographics and statistics. For example, if you are elderly or very young, you are considered more likely to crash. Likewise, if you are a man, you are considered more likely to have an accident than a woman – because statistically, that’s the truth.
You are also considered more likely to have an accident if you have had an accident previously and you are a higher risk if you park your car on the roadside – because that means your car might be vandalized or stolen, which will cost the insurance company money too.
So if you’re a young man, driving an expensive car, parking that car on the side of the road and having had a history of lots of accidents… then you might well pay more for your quote!
And so even if you have gone away from the quote for a couple of weeks and come back to it, some of those details may have changed. For example, you might find that your age has increased to the point that puts you over a certain threshold into an older age bracket. Or perhaps your car is now considered older and at greater risk of having an accident.
Finally, keep in mind that the amount that you are charged is not decided by a man with a clipboard. Rather, it is decided by an algorithm that is constantly updating itself and changing.
Car insurance companies look at national statistics to decipher who is most likely to crash and who is not, and to decide therefore how much they should charge you for your own insurance.
This means that the insurance rates offered can change over time as national statistics are updated. Perhaps there has been a spike in accidents involving people who fall into your age bracket!
Likewise, sometimes an insurance company can change its prices based on the market, on competition or on how many customers it currently has. If a company has a huge number of customers, then it can afford to charge more for its insurance than if it has only a few customers and is in dire need of a cash injection!
Deals and Offers
It’s important to check to see if there are any deals or offers on. One of the most common offers of all, is that you can save money on your car insurance by buying online. That means that if you got your quote online and then called up to confirm, you could end up paying more for your rates because you’ve changed the way you’re dealing.
Otherwise, an insurance company could be running a short-term deal or offer that you’re unaware of and this could be affecting your current or previous quote.
And you know what? Sometimes the calculators on car insurance sites simply glitch out and end up offering you the wrong amount! Other times, they might not properly factor in one of the answer boxes.
And it’s not just machines that glitch and error! Perhaps go back and check to see if perhaps you entered something wrong this time around! Keep in mind too that many small factors can affect your quote, even if you think they’re probably inconsequential. So always go through the details you entered with a fine comb. Where you park your car and named drivers can be huge influencing factors.
Know that companies are under no obligation to honor their quote for any longer than it remains on your screen. But also know that you are under no obligation to accept that quote. If you don’t like what you’re seeing, then go and shop elsewhere until you find a provider that can do it for the price you do like!