The Great Dilemma: Buy Insurance Online or Hire an Agent?

Last Updated: Thu, May 16, 2013 11:55 hrs

Latika does everything online. She interacts with friends and family online, buys clothes online, pays her bills online, and even orders her favourite pizza online. So when Latika wants to buy insurance, she naturally looks online. ‘It is convenient and provides so many options,' she says.

Her father disagrees. 'All this internet jazz is well and good,' he says, 'but nothing beats a good real - life insurance broker.' Latika's dad prizes social interaction over the convenience of the virtual world.

This, in a nutshell, brings to the fore the online-versus-agent debate. Regardless of whether you prefer the virtual comforts of the internet or enjoy a little human interaction, you should be aware of their pros and cons.

Insurance Agent: Cons

  1. You Will Have to Schedule a Meeting - When you compare this with the sheer convenience of insurance shopping online, you are likely to grumble about the need to meet the agent.

  2. Enduring Unwanted Sales Pitches - The insurance agent may be getting big commissions on some products, and so, keeps pitching those products. Another disadvantage is that he may offer plans from only a single company.

  3. May not Offer Cheap Premium Plans - A good insurance agent will offer you good insurance plans, but these may not always cater to your super-slim budget.

Insurance Agent: Pros

  1. He Is in on Better Deals - The insurance agent is likely to have information about better plans and discounts at his fingertips than you might be able to find on the internet.

  2. Can Provide Better Guidance - If you have questions about insurance premiums, coverage, penalties, etc., an insurance agent could guide you effectively and help you find a plan that suits your needs.

  3. A Helpful Middleman during Settlement - When it is time to file a claim for settlement, your insurance agent could be a big help.

Online Purchase: Cons

  1. May not Get Adequate Coverage - If your insurance knowledge is limited, you may find plans with low premiums, but are you sure that the coverage they offer is enough?

  2. Multiple Options Can Confuse You - Too many options may not always be a good thing. Compare too many policies and you run the risk of information overload.

  3. No One to Answer Your Questions - When you buy online insurance, you will have to talk to customer care executives at the company’s call centres if you want clarifications. You may not always get the guidance or information you seek.

Online Purchase: Pros

  1. The Sheer Convenience of It All - You can actually go insurance shopping in your pyjamas. Do it after dinner or before getting ready for a movie. Moreover, you can go shopping whenever and as frequently as you like.

  2. Comparing Policies Has never Been Easier - The World Wide Web offers so many comparison sites that you can look for good and better deals almost without end.

  3. You Will never Run out of Options - Depending on your requirements, you should be able to find a host of great insurance deals. The options are interminable.

Tip: But why do you have to choose one over the other? Start by shopping online to get a flavour of the available deals. Then call in your agent for his take on the matter. Finally, compare the rates he gives you with those available online and make an informed decision on your insurance buy. Enjoy the best of both worlds!

Deepak Yohannan Deepak

The author of the article, Deepak Yohannan, is CEO of, India’s first Web Aggregator for insurance products approved by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA).

For more articles by Deepak Yohannan, please visit

For related queries you may write to the author at

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