Probably most people have run across websites or ads for websites that offer free quotes for either life insurance or health insurance. Now those websites do have a useful purpose (sometimes). They can give some people a sense of what insurance companies may be best for their situation. And for some people, those websites can be reasonably accurate.
However, most of those websites that offer quotes have a little secret that the people or companies responsible for the sites don’t tell you about. The vast majority of these sites aren’t really upfront, or don’t tell you at all, that the quote they give you may not be helpful at all.
You see, these websites generally assume the best case scenario–that means no tobacco use, no health problems (not even minor ones), proper weight, etc.
Now, in a sense, there’s no problem with that. Any quote comparison has to have a level base of comparison, which means, in a sense, making up an imaginary person. But a more responsible agent or company will often use an imaginary person that’s closer to the average real person.
More realistically, of course, there is a problem with the assumptions of these websites. The problem is that for many people, perhaps most people, the quotes that they get will be totally unrealistic and irrelevant to their situation.
Suppose you go to one of those websites, get an attractive-sounding quote, and on the strength of that, you call up that company and apply for a policy. If you have some health problems, or you’re significantly overweight, or perhaps simply middle-aged, the price you will get at the end of the underwriting process will be drastically higher than the price you thought you would be getting.
I encourage everybody to shop around, but usually the best way to do that is to talk to an independent agent who represents more than one company. This can also be helpful if you’re looking for the best value, rather than the absolute lowest price. An agent can walk you through the comparison process, and help you figure out what company and what type of policy is best for you.