How Much Should Online Reviews Affect my Insurance Company Selection?
Online reviews are essential nowadays. With so much shopping transitioning into the online sphere, these reviews are one of the only ways you can make sure you are getting what you’re expecting.
I know every time I consider buying something online, I first browse the reviews (specifically the ones with pictures).
In fact, oftentimes we trust these reviews as much as we trust recommendations from people we know.
So if your insurance agent pairs you with an insurance company that has not-so-great online reviews, what should you do? You trust your agent, but you are worried about having to deal with the issues you’ve read about in the reviews on Google or Facebook.
At Berry Insurance, we work with several insurance carriers, all of which we trust, respect, and are happy to work with. However, if you look them up online, some have better reviews than others.
Occasionally, when we pick the company we think is best for a client, they express concerns about some reviews they’ve seen online, and understandably so.
We’re glad our clients are doing their homework and want to make sure they have great coverage, but we also know there is sometimes more to the story when it comes to bad reviews.
So how much weight should you actually give these reviews?
Before letting online reviews affect your decision, here are some questions to ask yourself:
Who is writing the review?
It is easy to hide behind your computer screen or pretend to be someone else when writing online reviews. The truth is, there is really no way of knowing who is behind them.
It could be a perfectly reasonable person with a valid complaint. But it could be that company’s competition. It could be a disgruntled former employee. It could be a person with unreasonable expectations. It could be a person who misunderstood a situation.
In the same vein, positive reviews can also be from employees, or family members of employees. You really never know who is behind them or what their experience was.
Unfortunately, there is no way of validating these reviews, and there is no way of knowing how we would feel about the reviews if we knew the whole story.
These reviews could be valid, but because you don’t know, you shouldn’t trust them with 100% certainty.
What was the reviewer’s mood/motivation?
How many times have you had a strong emotional response to something, only to feel different after cooling off or getting a good night of sleep?
Oftentimes, when someone is upset about something, their first reaction is to go to the internet. The online reviews you read are often the result of a heat-of-the-moment impulse to vent about an issue, without taking into consideration the other side of the story.
For most, feelings of anger tend to be more motivating than feelings of satisfaction. Those who are angry with a service are more likely to take to the internet than those who are pleased with it.
So if you’re seeing some negative reviews on an insurance company, consider the motive.
How consistent are the reviews?
Again, because we don’t know who is writing negative reviews, or what their motives are, it’s hard to know how much to trust them.
One way to determine how much to trust negative reviews is to observe the frequency and consistency of the reviews.
If a company has hundreds of great reviews, and one bad one, I wouldn’t let it concern you too much. It could be from a fluke situation or untrustworthy source.
If a company has a bunch of negative reviews, all with different complaints, that might send up some red flags. The number of bad reviews is concerning, but if they’re all saying different things, it’s hard to determine if the company does have any specific, widespread issues.
If a company has several bad reviews, all with the same complaint, you can probably take them seriously.
Also consider how many total reviews these companies have. Some companies make a push to get positive reviews online, which can help water down the negative reviews. Bad reviews might be more noticeable for companies who have less reviews overall.
How important are the issues to you?
No company is perfect. We all have our issues once in a while despite trying our best.
When selecting a company to work with, you have to weigh your priorities.
Review the actual issues that are brought up in the reviews …
- Are wait times long?
- Do representatives never call you back?
- Are representatives rude?
- Are services costly?
- Does the company donate to organizations you don’t support?
Consider the issues and decide whether they are severe enough for you to refrain from working with them.
Also, consider if these issues are avoidable. Do other insurance companies not have any of these problems? Sometimes, insurance companies have to comply with new laws or regulations in the industry, which may not be welcomed by the clients.
Is the company working to correct these issues?
Online reviews are generally one-sided, but make efforts to see if you can get a little bit of the other side of the story.
Is the insurance company responding to these online reviews? Are they apologizing? Are they taking responsibility? Are they offering an explanation or solution?
Check their website and social media as well. Maybe they’re acknowledging that they are going through some kind of change that is temporarily increasing wait times or causing some sort of issue.
If the issue is temporary, that should put your mind at ease a little bit. If the company acknowledges there are issues and are pledging to work on them, you should feel confident that the company is genuine, transparent and cares about its clients.
Can my agent remedy the issues?
One important thing to keep in mind when considering insurance companies is that an agent can help. Independent agents (like us at Berry Insurance) do not work for the insurance company you have your policy with, they just work with that insurance company on your behalf.
If you’re hesitant about working with an insurance company because of their reviews, ask yourself, “Does the fact that my agent will be the one working directly with the company help?”
At Berry Insurance, we vet all carriers we work with. We have relationships with them and in many cases, have been collaborating with them for years. We don’t place any client’s insurance with a company we don’t trust.
By working with an agent like us, you are eliminating your need to work with the insurance company directly. If there is an issue like one of the ones you read about in the reviews, we are most likely the ones who are dealing with it.
If there is some widespread issue that makes you uncomfortable with providing business to a specific company, then by all means, refuse the business; but if the issues you read about with the reviews are something you don’t mind so much as long as you aren’t directly dealing with them, then don’t sign the insurance company off so soon.
We know online reviews are important. In fact, we encourage you to look at online reviews (especially when choosing an insurance agency). We’re just saying, don’t put too much stock into what reviews say without some further consideration of who is writing the review, what the other side of the story might be, what the issues actually are, and if there is a pattern of issues.
In addition to reviews, there are several other factors to consider when selecting an insurance agency or carrier.
Check out this article What to Look for When Selecting an Insurance Agency or Company.