Two years ago I took out a commercial auto policy from Geico Commercial. I knew my personal policy from Liberty Mutual specifically excluded “livery” – the use of my vehicle to transport goods or persons for hire, and I found out they had no options or riders to cover it. If I wanted to be insured I had to go a different route.
I think they've been good. I've never had a claim so I don't know for sure. However, for this year's renewal I found out they're bumping my rates up nearly 50%. It was time for a change.
First Step: Check with My Personal Insurance
I wrote this article about how to make sure you have the right kind of insurance for your delivery work. There are basically three steps:
- Check your policy
- Contact Your Insurance provider for options
- Start shopping
I had already checked my policy a couple years ago. That's why I moved to commercial insurance in the first place. However, we still had that policy for my wife's car and for our homeowners insurance.
And honestly, I'd much rather have everything back on one policy. Until the rate hike with Geico, my commercial policy was really only $30 more per month than what I would pay for a single car policy for the same coverage. However, it was costing me more than that $30 due to not getting the multi-car discount or the bundling discount that was available through Liberty. So it made sense to follow step 2 and find out, has anything changed?
Food delivery and the gig economy have both exploded in the past two years. I thought that maybe because of that, Liberty may have added some options. Unfortunately, they didn't.
Second Step: Start Shopping
When it comes to looking for the right insurance for your delivery work with Grubhub, Doordash, Postmates and other independent contractor delivery gigs, there are really three ways you can go when it comes to shopping:
- Contact insurance companies directly and get quotes
- Use an independent agent
- Get a quote through a commercial insurance lead source
If you know who has competitive commercial insurance in your state, the first option might be fine. The problem is, how do you know who has it? You can search on Google. I have found that a lot of the options that pop up don't actually offer commercial auto. You also get a lot of independent agents or lead sources pop up.
I did go through all three options, mostly so I could write about the experience each way. I did actually go through the process with a number of lead sources (the third option) and in particular, I want to talk about my experience with CommercialInsurance.net. Full disclosure, I do have an affiliate relationship with them, so I may receive compensation when you click on the affiliate links, and that compensation helps keep this site up and running.
What is the difference between a lead source like CommercialInsurance.net and an independent agent?
I'll be honest, I don't know what the actual term is, I chose lead source because it best explains how these companies work to my understanding.
An independent agent is an actual insurance agent who is typically allowed to provide quotes for a variety of companies. The thing I like about an independent agent is that they can do a lot of your homework for you. They have the contacts with each of the personal policies to find out if there are options for delivery. They may also have commercial insurance options available.
A lead source is essentially a company that has identified companies that offer the type of insurance you are looking for. They take your information and find out your particular need, and match you up with a provider that can give you a quote. The lead source does NOT provide the quotes themselved, it's more like they put you in touch with insurance company itself.
Which one is better?
I'm not sure there IS a better option. If I had to choose only one for myself, I might lean towards an independent agent, IF I felt like the independent agent could provide a wide enough variety of options. I like that you can get multiple quotes and that you have a single point of contact. Obviously they are going to be limited by which companies they have relationships with.
So why would I look at a lead source if they can't do what an independent agent can?
The main reason that I decided to look at a company like CommercialInsurance.net is that they focus on commercial insurance, AND they are available in every state. It's a little simpler and easier to find sources through such a company. An independent agent can usually only work in their state and possibly some neighboring states. A lead source company has options in all states and there's something simpler and more straight forward. I actually found a number of options through my experience.
Why did I choose CommercialInsurance.net over the others?
I actually went through the process with a number of similar companies. It was an interesting process, but there were a few things I liked about CI-net (my abbreviation – easier than typing out the whole thing every time).
For the most part they all do things the same. They get your information, find out what you need, and they refer you to a commercial provider. I found that CI-net made it a little easier. I had personal contact right away, including the option to just call in to begin with. The other thing is, they had a starting point that was designed specifically for commercial auto for gig workers. With everyone else, you had to wade through what TYPE of commercial insurance you want (Liability and other business insurance, or workers comp, or commercial auto). Even with the commercial auto, there's a difference between buying insurance as a delivery contractor and getting it as a business owner who has a fleet of vehicles. CommercialInsurance.net seemed to recognize that better than anyone.
As I've said before, I do have an affiliate relationship with CI-net. In fact I looked into affiliate relationships with all of the others. My thinking at the time was that I could provide a variety of options that you could choose from. If you've been to this site much you may have noticed a time when I was listing multiple providers in the side bar. In the end I just found that CI-net was easier for people to work with AND if you want multiple options, they actually help you with that. I'll get into that in a moment, but it made sense to go with the easiest provider to work with.
Requesting a Quote from CommercialInsurance.net
Obviously you can type out CommercialInsurance.net in your browser, or click on my affiliate link to CI-net. The affiliate link takes you directly to a landing page for rideshare and delivery contractors.
Like I said, it is a nicer starting point than some that require you to then choose the type of insurance you are looking for. At this point, I just entered my zip code and…
Now it asks for your information. This screenshot was taken after entered everything – that last field is asking for Business Description. I chose to enter Gig Economy Food Delivery, I felt that was the most descriptive thing I could put.
At this point you get asked a few things about your business. How many years have you been in business? How many employees do you have? What kind of revenue do you anticipate? What type of business is it? Note that I entered 1 for employees – referring to myself. The correct thing to answer there should be 0 (I found this out later in the process, the 1 created some confusion). I chose Food Delivery from the drop down.
Even though we did start with a landing page for commercial auto, unfortunately the site wasn't intuitive enough to check that off here, so you will need to select Commercial Auto out of the options below.
And then the part where they offer other options.
It was as simple as that. From that point on they either will call you or they give you the option to call in.
One thing I've found in the process, both two years ago, and again this year, is that I cannot locate any options where you can just get a commercial policy on line. You have to talk to someone. Maybe it's because commercial auto isn't as straight forward when you are working with gig companies like Grubhub, Doordash, Postmates, Uber Eats and others. I did find that a little disappointing.
Like I mentioned, previously I had listed multiple options for lead providers. But I found that when I finished the process, CI-net did that for me. Once finished, they were set up to contact you about getting the quote. But then they also listed a number of other options.
At first I read the headline Small Business Insurance Providers in Colorado. Awesome, I thought. Maybe there's someone local. All the options I was presented with were actually other lead providers that worked similarly to CI-net.
What happened next?
I did receive a call shortly after filling this out. I don't know their call center hours or even if the center is staffed exclusively by CI-net or if they farm it out. They verified the information, put me on hold a little while checking options, then informed me that they do have a provider that can help. They asked if they could transfer me, and from that point I was ringing in to a local insurance agent from Farmer's Insurance.
I actually found this to be helpful because Farmers ended up being one of the better options. Actually, the Farmer's rep told me they might be able to handle this on the personal insurance side, which is even better.
What did I like and dislike?
I did like that there was someone who could filter out what I was looking for. In that regard they worked as well as having an independent agent. The problem with commercial auto is that a lot of such policies are geared towards a business that has a fleet of cars. Some may not cover personal use, and many of them are geared towards a full blown business that might have multiple vehicles. They can get expensive once you go that route. This gave me a way to talk to someone who could understand what I was doing and find an option for me.
What I didn't like was not getting to make choices. All that happens is I get handed off to an insurance company or agent. I know they work with at least a couple of companies. It would have been nice to hear that okay, here are the three companies you could contact.
I get that because of the business model. They are not agents. They are a lead generation affiliate based marketing company. As I understand it, these companies get paid for the qualified leads, and if they can get you to the point where they can hand you off to an agent or company, that's how they get their payment. They lose control of the process if they just give you choices.
And then there's this quirky relationship between these lead generation companies.
I want to dig a little into my experience clicking on the companies that were listed. Each company had a similar process, and the first one ended up transferring me to Progressive Commercial, where I received a competitive quote. In that regard, I was happy that I found two commercial options through CI-net, one being indirect.
The part that was interesting was that the next one I talked to transferred me to the same Farmer's agent. Another one, when I told them I was getting quotes already from Progressive and Farmer's, said okay, we have another option for you. They actually transferred me to CommercialInsurance.net. The same thing happened with another company that I went through, they ultimately referred me to CI-Net.
It seemed odd at first. But when you think about the model, it makes some sense. They get money based on referrals. They probably get more when they can send a unique lead to an insurance company. My suspicion is you won't get transferred to the best match, but to the company that is paying the best referral. My theory is there are two companies that pay decent referrals in Colorado. After that, it was more profitable for them to transfer me to another lead referral company (or another such company may be the only real option).
So, was it worth it to use CommercialInsurance.net?
I'm glad I'm not super introverted. I know a number of people who would much prefer it if they could just deal with it on line and not deal with a person. I get that. Unfortunately, that's not an option here.
My biggest beef is, you don't know if you're getting the best option for you. You are not presented with options. They pick someone, and you don't know if you got the best match or who would pay them the most. Because they aren't agents themselves, you can't really pick their brains about certain things about insurance. They're marketers, not agents.
I walked away from this process with three solid options, two from the same insurance company. I found options that I don't think I would have through an independent agent. That's the most important thing to me, is finding all the available options.
I appreciated that CI-Net had an emphasis on gig delivery. That shortened the process a little (but just a little) compared to others that I tried. Their representative was courteous and professional. I felt like out of all the options I looked at including an independent agent, CI-Net were the most prompt and responsive of any of them.
But that doesn't answer the question. Was it worth it?
To me, it was.
It did take a little extra time to get the other options, in going through the process with the other providers. That is something you have to make your own mind up on, is it worth that time?
The important thing to me is finding all of the solid options I can find. Using CommercialInsurance.net allowed me to do that. They helped me find options I wouldn't have known were available. Because of that, I felt it was worth the time.
The question is, how in depth do you want to go? CI-net could be a good option either way. If you want to dig for all the options available, I think you definitely want to see what options they have available. They get paid best when they can provide a unique lead. If you mention the options you're already looking at, they're motivated to find someone else. That gives you another option. And it doesn't cost you anything.
But what about if you just need to get something quickly? They may also be the quickest option. They tell me they have providers in all 50 states. The process is quick, you can even call them directly (405-875-0047) or fill out the information. My experience was they got back to me quickly. They then transfer you directly to someone who can give you a quote.
My final opinion on my process with CommercialInsurance.net
I definitely don't think they are the only option you should try. I don't even know if they are the BEST option. But they are an option, and in fact could lead to several options. For that reason, I recommend trying them out.
I will be honest, I'm not convinced they'll give you the best option they have. Having said that, I don't know if they would have a way to KNOW the best option. Remember that they are not agents, they don't have access to what a quote would look like. It may well be that they transfer to the insurance company that pays them the best.
If I were to do it again, I would contact them last, after identifying any other options. That allows a process of elimination, because as you talk to them you can advise who you are already getting quotes from. At that point, if they have any options beyond that, you'll get those options instead of duplicating what you already found.
My suspicion is, if you get transferred to another lead referral company, you know you've exhausted all options. That's actually good to know.
The bottom line is, I'm glad that I used them. The options I found were useful. I have yet to decide exactly which way I'm going. In the end, I do think that getting a quote through CommercialInsurance.net did allow me to get a more exhaustive list of options to choose from.