Three tips for filling out online insurance applications

Susan Boerchers

It's practically a snap to buy insurance online. Spend a few minutes on your computer, and you've got the ball rolling. Yet oversimplifying the process can be dangerous. That's why experts recommend you do your homework beforehand and take your time filling out online insurance applications.

Here are three tips for making the purchase of insurance online go as smoothly as possible.

  1. Slow down. It's critical to read an application thoroughly to understand what information is needed so you can gather it before you start filling out a form.

    Sonja Larkin-Thorne, a consumer advocate for the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, says: "Integrity of information is critical to the underwriting process. It's important to really take the time to pre-read the application and know exactly what the company is looking for."

    Have the specifics at hand means you don't have to make "guesstimates," which only complicate the process in the long run. "Facts are critical," Larkin-Thorne says.

  2. Be honest. With the availability of vast amounts of information about you from various sources, such as motor vehicle records and social media sites, some of the little blemishes you might prefer to shove aside are out there for all to see. Insurance companies are almost sure to find them.

    Therefore, experts recommend you fill out an online insurance application honestly. Any discrepancies will delay approval of your application. Inconsistencies will make the insurer wonder what other facts may be distorted and prompt the company to probe your background even more. So, for instance, don't try to hide past losses or teen drivers.

  3. Shop around. Robert Hunter, director of insurance for the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America, suggests visiting the "Consumer Information Source" section of the website for the National Association of Insurance Commissioners to find complaint ratios for insurance companies that you're considering. Drop the companies with bad complaint ratios compared with their competitors, Hunter says, then target three or four insurers.

    Insurance companies will take the time to evaluate you. Make sure you take the time to determine which company and coverage are best for you.