Car insurance rates are rising. According to the Federal Consumer Price Index, people saw rate hikes of 7.6% between 2017 and 2018. Naturally, everyone’s shopping around for a new rate. If you’ve plugged that search into Google, you might have encountered Provide Savings. Its website claims that it’ll shop the auto insurance industry for you, finding you the best prices in your area with no sweat on your part. But this website has a shady reputation that has some users crying fraud. Let our Provide Savings insurance review help you decide whether this service is really a savings plan or a scam.
What is Provide Savings?
Who They Are
Provide Savings started in 2011 as a service of the Internet marketing company AdHarmonics. Later, this business rebranded as Everquote. Is since seems to have shifted its focus from marketing in general to car insurance specifically. Its brick and mortar location is in Cambridge, Massachusetts. However, its online ads appear all over the country.
In addition to Provide Savings, Everquote manages a website called USAutoInsuranceNow.com. This looks almost the same as Provide Savings. Everquote’s website is nearly a carbon copy of both of these other domains. The only exception is that Everquote itself claims to help customers find home and life insurance coverage, too. It does not claim to assist you in finding travel insurance, dental plans, or health plans.
A 2014 article from Think With Google describes in glowing terms the way that Everquote used Google Ads to get its service in front of as many eyes as possible. If you’ve seen Provide Savings online, this may be why: they’ve been very effective advertisers.
It’s important to point out that Provide Savings doesn’t itself provide insurance. It doesn’t even charge fees. It takes your information and redistributes it to insurance providers, who then offer you rates. One sign that Provide Savings can’t guarantee you a lower price is that it doesn’t ask for information from your driver’s license. Your final insurance quote will depend a lot on your driving record. There’s no way that Provide Savings could know if a better rate was even possible for you without your license information.
The Purpose of Provide Savings
The reason that Provide Savings exists is to help customers find better auto insurance rates. This also appears to be the function of the other websites that Everquote runs. From the auto owner’s point of view, the company should be very convenient. However, to believe that is to forget about Provide Savings’s real customers: insurance agencies.
Everquote works with a very large number of insurance agencies, both huge and tiny. These agencies appear to pay Everquote for leads. Since the insurance agencies are the paying customers, it’s safe to say that Everquote doesn’t really exist to sell you auto insurance. Instead, its purpose is to sell auto insurance companies your information. If you check out Everquote’s website, you’ll have a chance to click on the “For Agents” link. There, you’ll be offered a 14-day trial for a service that will connect you with people who want auto insurance.
The problem is that anybody posing as an insurance company could sign up for a free trial, or even subscribe. Legitimate insurance companies and independent operations are the ideal customers, but scammers could take advantage of this system. Having access to people who are eager to reduce their monthly premiums is a bad guy’s dream. That’s not to say that Everquote is itself a scammer, but its service might be easy to exploit for a clever con artist. To understand why this is, we’ll have to take a closer look at what exactly Provide Savings is trying to do.
What It Is
Lead generation is the process of finding new clients. It doesn’t have to be an Internet-based phenomenon. In fact, it hasn’t been so for most of its existence. Traditional lead generation has relied on things like personal referrals. When a company like Airbnb rewards you for roping your friends into their service, you’ve just participated in lead generation.
Other forms of lead generation include telemarketing and old-fashioned paper forms. If you’re ever asked to write down your name, phone number, and email address at an event, then you now know why. Your information is valuable to the organization collecting it, whether for their own purposes or because one of their affiliates can use it.
The Internet has jump-started the whole lead generation process. Now, lead generators can buy Google ads and appear on social media. Lead generators have viral potential, just like everything else on the Internet. A casual Google search might bring it to the screens of thousands of people. Even if only a small percentage of those folks give up their information, that data is valuable to somebody. The lead generator puts it on the market.
After that, multiple companies might pay the lead generator for your data. That means that the phone number you gave for free, whether you got anything in exchange or not, turns out to be quite profitable. It’ll get sold again and again. It’s hard to determine where it’ll end up.
How It’s Supposed to Work for You
Theoretically, lead generators like Provide Savings sell your information to companies that want to offer you a better insurance policy than the one you’re currently getting. This is supposed to be best for high-risk drivers who have been in an at-fault accident and whose insurance premiums might have spiked as a result.
Provide Savings, for example, is supposed to connect you with better car insurance. The idea is that agents from across your area will compete against one another for your business. This could include independent agencies, small local shops that often provide better service than big national chains. Modest-sized insurance providers don’t always have the money to advertise widely. Getting leads could make a real difference to their business.
You can bargain with small local insurance agencies far more easily than you can with national and online insurance providers like Geico and Progressive. If the insurer also offers homeowners’ insurance, renters insurance, or health insurance, they may also be more willing to negotiate a multi-policy discount too. You may be better able to explain your driving record to a sympathetic human than to a website or a bored call center worker.
Locals also have a vested interest in being honest. If their reputation falters, they can easily lose too much business. Small insurance companies are likely to give you a better deal if they know they have a chance to woo you away from one of the giants. Every customer matters to them. Ideally, the lead generation system lets you choose which one of these little guys can offer you the best rate.
The Problem with Lead Generators
However, even under these ideal circumstances, a lead generator like Provide Savings is giving your contact information out to multiple buyers. The point of the site is to generate leads, after all, and you’re a good lead because Provide Savings can guarantee that you’re interested in getting car insurance quotes. Inevitably, you’ll be bombed with offers as soon as that information becomes available to its subscribers. Even if you do want to improve your car insurance rates, this is an invasive hassle. If you’re working with a limited text or talk plan – perhaps a pre-paid phone – then it can even get pricey.
Targeting Tech Newbies
This issue is most serious for people who don’t know much about technology to begin with, such as older people and tech immigrants. The Provide Savings form doesn’t explain what it does very well, allowing the user to assume that they’ll be personally securing a new rate for you. Perhaps they’ll take those calls from insurance agencies, negotiate on your behalf, and return you huge savings. It’s understandable that someone might leap to this conclusion, especially if they’re not familiar enough with the Internet to know that anything that goes into a form is potentially fair game for advertisers, scammers, and spammers.
Look at it this way: your grandmother’s last high tech gadget was a Nokia flip phone. Now she has a Samsung Galaxy that she can barely answer. The world of technology is already somewhat strange to her, so when she starts getting texts and calls from strange businesses, she’ll no doubt feel overwhelmed. At best, she’ll have to field dozens of unwanted calls. She’ll have no way to make them stop and a tenuous grasp on how to decline them.
Vulnerability to Scammers
Remember, on the Internet, nobody knows for sure if you’re a real insurance agency or not. This is especially true if you’re clever and out to do some mischief. The system that Everquote uses is already quite risky to you, as it may not be too hard for scammers to fool this company into thinking that they’re legitimate businesses.
Everquote’s lack of transparency on its web page isn’t illegal. The company isn’t necessarily acting in bad faith themselves, but they don’t have to. Some bad actors may take advantage of this service. That’s why customers have raised their collective voices against Everquote and Provide Savings.
Overwhelmingly Negative Reviews
The few online reviews about Provide Savings are unequivocal: this service is a waste of time. At best, customers claim that it offers no added value; at worst, they were instantly bombarded with calls from insurance agents. Remember, Provide Savings doesn’t do anything except pass your information on to insurance agents, who then theoretically call you with improved rates.
Unhappy customers on HighYa reported that the value they received from the many phone calls (and emails, too) from insurance agencies was no better than they could have gotten themselves by using the websites associated with those agencies. The fact that Provide Savings claims that it will give you a quote angered customers who found themselves routed to other insurance agencies.
Moreover, some complaints have insisted that people who used Provide Savings received calls from scammers afterward. It’s hard to verify whether this is true or not, but the system that Provide Savings uses could be vulnerable to manipulation.
Provide Savings appears to promise much more than it delivers. For one thing, as we mentioned in the previous section, it makes customers think that they’ll be able to get an insurance quote after filling out a lengthy form. That’s not the case – Provide Savings doesn’t offer insurance itself. It’s the middle-most of middlemen. Plenty of customers get caught by this confusing distinction.
Worst of all, the insurance sites to which Provide Savings routs customers ask for the same exhaustive amounts of information that Provide Savings just demanded. Even assuming the savings are worth all of this trouble, it’s the rare customer who will have the patience, nevermind the credulity, to keep entering their personal information on form after form. There are far more efficient ways to get insurance savings.
Most disturbingly, Provide Savings has had a large number of official complaints lodged against it in its hometown of Cambridge, Massachusetts. The parent company of Provide Savings used to be AdHarmonics but is now Everquote, Inc. It features under two stars from over 360 reviews – and that’s just on its Better Business Bureau profile. The business has a B rating in February 2019, down from a reported A- in 2015. However, its B rating is not the result of online ratings, but official complaints lodged with the BBB itself. There have been 78 official complaints filed against Everquote since it opened its doors in 2011.
You can read these grievances and Everquote’s answers on the Better Business Bureau website. As of the writing of this article, the most recent one is less than a month old. Like many of the others, it claims that the customer was targeted with a tidal wave of sales and scam calls after using an Everquote service. To its credit, Everquote is good about answering complaints. However, its answers are often evasive and never inspire much confidence.
Don’t use Provide Savings
Provide Savings is not quite a scam. A scam is an illegal scheme designed to part you with money, and Provide Savings itself doesn’t do this. However, it’s a scam’s first cousin. Our conclusion about it is the same as if it was criminal: using Provide Savings is a terrible idea under any circumstances.
Provide Savings probably won’t get you a better rate on your car insurance, but it will open you to annoying calls from multiple agents. That’s not just a likely outcome, but an inevitability. It’s the entire premise of this business. It’s possible that the only reason anybody uses it is that they don’t completely understand how it operates. That goes for any Everquote website.
The One Good Thing About Provide Savings
The one thing we do like about Provide Savings is that it stands as an excellent example of why you should avoid giving your contact information out online. This service isn’t the only lead generation scheme out there. Most lead generation happens on the websites of companies that offer other services, like MailChimp and Zillow. Those are nowhere near as iffy as Provide Savings, but they illustrate an important point about using the Internet mindfully.
Whenever you’re asked to enter your email or phone number on a form, you run the risk of becoming a lead for some hungry company. That’s not to say that you should never do so, of course. It’s hard to shop online at all without entering your contact information. But be mindful about who you give your information to. Giving your phone number to Amazon.com is much different than handing it out to a company that you don’t know.
After all of this trouble, you still need a new insurance policy quote. How can you shop around without opening yourself to spam? There’s a subtle art to saving money on your insurance, and unfortunately, it’ll involve a little legwork on your part. Look at it this way: investing a couple of hours in your hunt for a better rate will result in big savings and avoid a deluge of spammy sales calls.
How To Lower Your Rates The Safe Way
First of all, call your current insurance agent and ask what you’d need to do to lower your rate. Sometimes, an action as simple as using an anti-theft device or taking a defensive driving course can make a difference in your premium. You never know what’s available to you until you ask. If your current agent isn’t forthcoming, then you can ask about these kinds of features when you comparison shop at other insurance agencies. The Insurance Information Institute has a good list of rate-reducing factors for those who want to be in the know.
Other modifications to your current plan, like raising your deductible or adding additional drivers, can make a difference, too. Accident forgiveness is sometimes available, even from large insurance providers, and it’s worthwhile to investigate it before you switch. (This is especially true if you’ve never caused bodily injury with your car.) Investopedia also recommends keeping good credit, since that’s a factor in your insurance fortunes too. If you need help with your credit score, check out our tips on how to get your credit above 700 fast. If that’s not enough for you, then we also have some weirder tips on how to rescue your credit in ways both unusual and highly effective.
You’re in Control
When you’re a customer, you’ve got the power of the dollar on your side. Compare rates from competing companies every couple years, and when you’ve finally run your old clunker into the ground, consider buying an insurance-friendly car. NerdWallet has a good list. Remember to look for roadside assistance and comprehensive coverage. When you’re taking out an insurance policy, you can’t afford to rush.
You’re not alone in your desire to save money and lower your car insurance policy rate. Luckily, there are lots of good options out there that don’t involve handing your personal data over to a company that will sell you out. Follow the advice of the insurance experts and switch companies if you have to, but don’t believe someone who claims to use secret alchemy to get you that magic price. That goes double for a service that’s supposedly free. As a wise person once said, if you’re not paying to the service, then you’re the product. If there’s one thing you take away from this Provide Savings Insurance review it’s this: don’t use Provide Savings; your time is worth more than that.