In a Nutshell: Shopping online for insurance can present challenges for consumers. Rates for the same basic products vary widely between companies, and hopping from site to site can be confusing and tedious. The Zebra is a comparison marketplace for car, home, and rental insurance that empowers consumers. Shoppers can search more than 100 insurers to find the policies that best fit their budget and financial goals in just a few minutes.
Shopping online is supposed to be more convenient than buying goods or services in person, but that hasn’t always been the case for insurance.
Comparing insurance policies online can be an exercise in frustration because carriers all operate independently. Users must repeatedly enter personal information and answer qualifying questions, and coverages and prices vary widely.
It’s such a hassle that many consumers prefer staying with the policy they initially chose, year after year, even when they could find savings elsewhere.
When entrepreneur Adam Lyons traveled to London in the early 2010s, he found shopping for insurance didn’t need to be so difficult. At that time, insurance marketplaces in the US were notorious for their aggressive sales tactics. In the UK, unbiased, high-quality marketplace sites handled most insurance transactions.
So Lyons founded The Zebra to reinvent the American process with a comparison marketplace for car, home, and renters insurance. It allows shoppers to visit one platform and select the best policies from more than 100 companies.
With The Zebra, Lyons set out to provide the same great experience he found in the UK, said Kristine Lee, licensed insurance agent at The Zebra.
“Our slogan follows our name — it’s insurance in black and white,” Lee said. “Consumers feel well equipped when they shop with us. They know what they’re buying and understand their coverage.”
The Zebra makes insurance shopping convenient and transparent. That leads consumers to return to the platform when their life circumstances change to search for an even better deal.
“We give more power to consumers to decide what’s best for themselves, their budgets, and their financial goals,” Lee said.
A Free and Convenient Shopping and Learning Platform
Users enter their personal information and answer questions only once after selecting their desired product. The platform returns a list of policies from more than 100 carrier partners for easy side-by-side comparison.
The Zebra is free for consumers and the platform earns revenue through commissions from its partners. Bundled car, home, and rental products are popular, and The Zebra also offers pet insurance and life insurance.
The Zebra team ensures that quotes reflect regulatory changes because each state has different guidelines. Lee said differences from state to state could significantly affect costs.
“For example, most states consider credit status because data tells them that people with lower scores tend to file more claims,” she said. “But some have ruled that as a discriminatory practice and have banned it.”
The Zebra has a team of licensed agents to help users overcome hurdles and find the right coverage. Agents act, essentially, as brokers, but they represent many more companies than traditional brokers. They offer a more personalized experience that enhances the choices available online.
The Zebra also provides an extensive collection of educational resources, including tools for budgeting for car purchases and insurance costs. Its resource center includes industry-related news and articles on insurance, driving, and personal finance.
The Zebra’s resource center covers topics insurance consumers need to know, from a study on the most dangerous roads in the US to tips on reducing teen driver insurance rates.
“We discuss issues such as the pros and cons of having a high versus a low deductible,” Lee said. “Our goal is to explain things thoroughly in terms a typical shopper will understand.”
Take Control to Save Money and Time
According to The Zebra’s research, the five minutes or so spent filling out the questionnaire results in the average consumer saving up to $900 a year on car insurance. And it’s easy to make changes and take advantage of any life changes that may favorably affect their rates.
“When they’re pricing people, insurance companies assess the risk they present,” Lee said. “Factors including your zip code, the kind of car you drive, and how far you commute for work indicate your likelihood of getting into an accident.”
When circumstances change, The Zebra helps consumers tap into more savings. There’s no penalty for starting fresh with a new company or canceling midway through a policy.
Consumers 26 and older are in a better position to save because data tells insurance companies there’s less risk associated with drivers above that age. Individuals who work from home can also take advantage because they spend less time on the road.
Most states still consider credit scores when pricing policies, so any significant improvement warrants a new search for insurance.
And because insurance companies each have their standards for weighing factors, they often charge different rates for essentially the same policy. It’s never a bad idea for shoppers to look around for a policy that better fits their changing lifestyle — especially with car insurance.
“It’s easier to just pay for a renewal than shop every six months, but many things can change in six months,” Lee said. “If you move up a tier in your credit score, that can make a big difference.”
Creating Positive Outcomes for Budget-Minded Users
It’s especially important for consumers on tight budgets to compare auto policies rather than renew automatically every six months without considering alternatives. The Zebra is especially valuable for comparing coverage and liability levels to determine the best price-to-coverage ratio.
Lee cautions that the best pricing strategy for cost-conscious consumers isn’t necessarily the most obvious. It usually pays to spend a little more money upfront than choosing the lowest possible price.
“Keep in mind that if you opt for minimum liability-only insurance, that doesn’t cover you and your vehicle,” she said. “If something catastrophic happens, that can affect your pocketbook and have major financial ramifications.”
Injury and hospitalization costs are potential factors, but so is job insecurity stemming from loss of personal transportation. People who don’t have work-from-home options are particularly vulnerable.
Taking public transportation to and from work may create a burden of inconvenience and time pressure. Rural and small-town residents typically don’t even have those options.
The Zebra has the tools for every customer to find the best insurance solutions from among more than 100 partners. The marketplace demystifies insurance and puts consumers in a better position to protect themselves against unfortunate events that can spiral into a financial crisis.
With the right insurance in place, people don’t have to worry about their credit scores going down and then paying more for insurance.
“Consumers have power over their choices — it’s just a matter of taking the time to look,” Lee said.