The nation’s top auto and home insurance companies all have something in common beyond catchy television ads. They’re all investing in enhancing their online shopping capabilities. That’s not surprising, considering 87% of Americans are online, according to Internet World Stats. But determining the cost of a premium isn’t as simple as those advertisements can make it seem — and buying the cheapest policy can have consequences. That’s where advisers come in.

The average consumer has no idea the complexity involved in determining prices, says Todd Chanon, partner at Dallas-based brokerage Waldman Bros. There can be anywhere from two to 200 rating variables, he says, but all the consumer sees is different prices from different carriers. Often, the adage “you get what you pay for” holds true, Chanon says, and unfortunately, the customer doesn’t find out that their coverage is lacking until it’s too late. Consumers need to know what they’re buying, he says, and brokers are a great resource for that knowledge.

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