There are tens of thousands of people every month searching Google for the answer to “is Otto Insurance legit?” or “is Otto insurance a scam”, and I wanted to shed some light on this topic because I can’t think of a better way to talk about the auto insurance lead industry than by using Otto insurance as an example.
According to their website
Otto Insurance does not provide insurance plans directly to consumers nor do we represent any specific providers.
Otto Insurance connects consumers to advertisers and insurance agencies only after we've gathered certain criteria from you.
Please note the lowest listed rates may not be available from all companies listed.
Your rates may vary based on your coverage limits, deductibles, driving records, type of vehicle, location and other variables.
Let’s just get this right out of the way.
Otto insurance does not appear to be a scam. In my estimation it is a lead generation website designed to drive traffic to insurance companies for a fee, but it is not an insurance company and you will not be able to see "instant rates" or manage your policy on their website.
What Does Otto Insurance Do?
- They sell your information to insurance agents and companies.
What Does Otto Insurance NOT Do?
- They do NOT sell auto insurance directly.
- You can NOT manage your policy from their website.
Essentially, Otto is a lead generation service and that’s it. Plain and simple. The website is designed to make money by selling leads to other insurance companies and lead aggregators.
The bottom line.
If you use Otto insurance to get an insurance quote, your information may be sold to multiple insurance companies that will then call, email or possibly even text you.
Here's the thing.
I’ve been in the auto insurance lead industry for over 20 years, primarily operating insurance websites just like Otto Insurance that drive visitors to larger carriers like Allstate, GEICO, Progressive, The General, Liberty Mutual, State Farm, .etc, and it’s clear within 10 seconds of visiting ottoinsurance.com that’s what they’re doing as well, except they’re doing it with a slight twist.
A twist that you may not like as a consumer.
Rather than a service like ours that allows you to choose the car insurance companies you want to get quotes from, Otto sells your information as a completed “request for quote” to insurance agents & companies directly when you fill out their form.
In both business models we earn a commission, but the difference is that Otto sells your information and you don't get to choose who buys it, or how many companies purchase that information to attempt to sell you insurance.
At Savings Hackers we do not sell your information, and you can choose the companies you wish to get quotes from. We've partnered with some of the best companies in the industry and we're not looking to squeeze every last dollar out of a lead...in fact, we don't even sell "leads", we give consumers like you the opportunity to select a company and get an immediate, binding auto insurance quote directly on their website.
We simply make shopping for insurance easy.
...now back to Otto.
Is Otto insurance a little deceptive? If you were expecting instant quotes on their website, then, yes. If not, then no.
If you expected Otto insurance to be an insurance company like GEICO, Progressive, .etc that writes policies, also, yes. If not, then no.
If you didn't expect either and just wanted to find a website that gave you access to many different insurance companies that could provide you with a quote over the phone, via email or text - then that's exactly what you'll get.
The Insurance Quote Process
I spent about a minute going through the form as a test user and all was pretty normal right up until the end.
On the final page, which you'll see in the screenshot below, you must agree to specific terms.
Take a good look at the fine print. These are no ordinary terms.
You agree that you've read...
- Their Terms Of Service
- and most importantly...
See that link that says “marketing partners”? It goes to this page. You agree you've read that as well.
As an industry expert I don't love this marketing partners page. In fact, I look at it like a CYA more than anything else, as there's little value to having this page publicly available otherwise.
On this page there are hundreds and hundreds of companies listed, and a good portion of them are simply different business names under the same company umbrella (same business entity), and many of these companies are lead aggregators themselves!
What does that mean? It means that your information could potentially (but not definitively) be sold by another company to more companies.
Yes, that's as crappy as it sounds.
I'm not saying that's exactly what happens, but it certainly could happen judging by these list of names, as I know the business model and the way this industry works.
Example Of Different Company Names Under The Same Umbrella Company
- Nationwide Auto Protection
- Nationwide General Insurance
- Nationwide Health Advisors
- Nationwide Insurance Company
- Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance
- Nationwide Mutual Insurance
- Nationwide Property and Casualty
I don't know about you but I'm willing to bet that Nationwide owns all of these companies LOL!
Also, I found this set of companies humorous so I had to post this, too.
- Quote Storm
- Quote Velocity
- Quote Whiz LLC
- Quote Wizard
- Quotehound Inc
- QuoteLab Marketing Partners
- QuoteManage LLC
- QuoteManager LLC
Does this seem a little repetitive?
The funny part is that I know most of the people that run these companies, and many of them are associated with other companies on this list!
For example MediaAlpha owns Quotelab, yet both company names are listed on the page. (Side note: I work with MediaAlpha and Quinstreet and they are both great companies, also they are both public companies so you can purchase shares of stock in them!)
Is Otto insurance just covering their bases in a legal disclaimer? Possibly, at least that's what I believe, but who knows what that poorly-formatted list of names is really supposed to be?
What I do know is that if you clicked that green “Get Your Free Quote” button in the screenshot above you agree to be contacted by any or all of these companies!
Whether that's what happens is up for debate, but they clearly reserve that right and that alone would make me shy away from using their service, even though I know from working in this industry that you're not likely to sell 1 lead to more than 10 companies, however, if those 10 companies happen to sell your data then all bets are off.
I'm actually OK with the business model of selling leads to other companies, but there has to be a firm cap on how many companies buy the lead. Consumers simply don't want to be bombarded by phone, text & email just because they wanted some information on a website (related note: Quicken Loans/Rocket Mortgage are notorious for this)
Would I use this company to get a quote? No. I’d simply be a commission whose information gets sold to an unknown amount of bidders in a best case scenario and I believe there are better methods of getting insurance quotes available to the average consumer.
…but does that make them a scam? From what I can see, no, it doesn’t.
Otto seems perfectly legit to me, they just aren’t very transparent in the beginning about what happens to your information after it’s sold, but it’s definitely included in the fine print and at that point, honestly, it's on YOU.
Let’s be crystal clear, here.
Otto insurance does NOT sell insurance, they merely collect and sell your information for a commission. That doesn't make them a scam, and doesn't mean they are preying on people or being overly deceptive about what they offer. They are a business that makes a commission selling information to other companies. That's it. There are plenty of others just like them.
Once the visitor (you?) enters their zip code and fills out information on the form, Otto insurance, like many others, has absolutely nothing to do with the end result or your overall experience.
When you click that green button it's out of their hands, for better or worse.
Getting Auto Insurance Quotes Online
If you want to compare insurance quotes you have to get multiple quotes from multiple companies and the best way to do that is by either going to individual insurance carrier websites (such as geico.com, progressive.com, statefarm.com, .etc) one-by-one, using our site (click right here!) where you can choose the insurance companies you want to get a quote from directly based on your area OR you can use a service like Otto Insurance that can sell your information to companies that may call, email or text you.
The reality is, you probably don’t want 20 calls/texts/emails in the next hour and you very likely don’t want to go to each insurance company’s website one-by-one to fill out quotes, either.
That’s why our service is so great.
In any case, all options are perfectly reasonable and if you choose to use Otto, or GEICO or us, the point is that you're making a proactive decision to shop around for insurance and lower your rates.
And true Savings Hackers know that's all that really matters!