The Difference Between Guesstimates and Estimates

Guess and Estimate!If you’ve spent more than five minutes trying to compare auto insurance policies and prices, you probably already have an aversion for the word “guesstimate” – as well you should. This is one of those words that can cause serious headaches when it comes to determining how much it’s going to cost you to insure your car. The reason? Most guesstimates are so far off the mark you might as well just ask a random stranger on the street how much they pay for coverage.

So how do you know if you’re getting a guesstimate or an estimate when doing your vehicle insurance comparison? Here are a few things to keep your eyes open for.

• Beware the agent or the online site that asks no questions. Whether you compare auto insurance online or in person, the bottom line is going to have everything to do with the personal information that you provide: from what kind of car you drive to how many tickets you’ve received to what your credit score is. Any accurate estimate will require that you give up your social security number and an accurate representation of your driving record. If anyone quotes you a figure without any of this information, you’re getting a ballpark guesstimate.

• If it’s too easy, it’s probably inaccurate. Getting a vehicle insurance comparison isn’t exactly brain surgery, but it’s not a simple process either. You have to provide a fair amount of information before you can get an accurate quote for coverage, and this can be a bit time consuming. Anytime you’re given a quote without first investing a bit of time and effort, it’s probably inaccurate and you shouldn’t count on its precision.

• Watch out for the fine print. Seek it out, and when you’ve found it, read it. All of it. And don’t just skim the words for important phrases. Unless you’re into getting major letdown surprises from car insurance agents, you’ll read everything that’s put before you. This is where you’ll spot such qualifying statements that start out like “The above figures are based on the average cost of…” and usually end by telling you that you’ll probably pay a lot more if you don’t fall into the exact definition just given.