How to shop for a car insurance agent

"The insurance company is going to err on the conservative side and ask you to carry it when it may not be feasible or make sense. An agent can guide you effectively," says Bitterlich.

On the other side, not having enough car insurance coverage can also be costly. Coleman says many people opt to go with the state minimums for liability because it's much cheaper.

"If you get into an accident and it's your fault and you get a $300,000 judgment against you, a lot of people think the insurance company is going to pay that. But it's just going to pay up to the liability limit and then you're on the hook for the rest," says insurance agent Coleman.

Personal relationships

Consumers can make the same choices whether they go to an agent or go online, but being informed in person may sway your opinion.

Working with an insurance agent can also be beneficial for changing car insurance needs such as when you have children, buy a new house or retire. But when big life changes occur, re-evaluating car insurance might not be at the top of your to-do list.

"When you're young, your insurance needs will be different than when you have a family, a home and a substantial amount of assets. You have to increase your insurance accordingly, but a lot of people aren't aware that they need to increase their limits," says Bitterlich.

Another situation when having a relationship with an agent can come in handy is in a car accident. Coleman says whether it's your fault or not, the incident will need to be reported to your insurance carrier and it can be useful to know your agent can guide you through the process.

"The agent can often advise what will happen next and answer questions the insured often has," he says.

Even without filing any car insurance claims, some people just prefer doing business in person.

"In the rural South where I live, face-to-face is a big thing. Sometimes, people just want to come in and look me in the eye," Coleman says.

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