He’ll Save $360 on Car Insurance This Year. Here’s His Secret Weapon

Artie Januario, 32, and his girlfriend Nicole Beck in Austin, Texas
Artie Januario, 32, and his girlfriend Nicole Beck in Austin, Texas. Photo courtesy of Artie Januario
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Until Artie Januario’s recent cross-country move, he’d never considered shopping around for car insurance.

When he lived in Boston, one of his best friends was his insurance agent, so he just went with it.

“I thought, ‘Oh, yeah, I’m getting a good deal, and I have good coverage,’” he says. “It was an out-of-sight, out-of-mind kind of thing.”

At the time, the 32-year-old paid about $95 a month through Liberty Mutual.

But about four months ago, he moved to Austin, Texas, where he had to re-register his car, get a new license, secure new car insurance — all that jazz.

Conveniently, his girlfriend had been hired at The Zebra, which Januario (and the company itself) describes as “Kayak for car insurance.”

He decided he had nothing to lose and compared insurance quotes through The Zebra’s online search engine. In about half an hour, he had new insurance — and managed to knock off about $30 a month, now paying about $65 a month in a state that, on average, has higher insurance rates than the one he’d moved from, according to The Zebra’s State of Auto Insurance report.

Back It up: What’s The Zebra?

Spoiler: We’re not talkin’ majestic African animals here.

The Zebra compares tons of car insurance quotes for you, all online. It combs through more than 200 providers to aggregate your best offers. Januario says it’s all transparent and presented directly on your computer screen.

“Pun intended, but it’s very black and white,” he says, quoting the company’s motto.

How The Zebra Works

Here’s how this company could save you money on car insurance:

1. Head over to The Zebra’s search platform.

Enter your car’s year, make and model, and your zip code. Then answer questions about your driving habits and lifestyle.

On the right sidebar, you’ll watch estimated rates increase or decrease based on your answers. For example, if you’ve gotten into an accident — that was your fault — in the past three years, your rates will kick up. It’s interesting to see what effect your answers might have.

2. After about two minutes of questions, it’s time to compare.

The Zebra gives you what it calls an Insurability Score, which is similar to your credit score, except for car insurance. It helps teach you how to get better rates. You can also play with various coverage options to see how that might affect your rates.

3. If you find an insurance plan that fits your needs, you can secure it through The Zebra. And if you have questions, you can call a representative, which was one of Januario’s favorite features. He was able to ask any and every question he had.

An Honest Review of The Zebra

“It’s not just because my girlfriend works there,” says Januario. “I would honestly recommend the site to anybody.”

It’s a sentiment he repeated at least twice during our conversation.

“Literally the night I used it, I had seven of my friends and family on there,” he says. “And they all said the same thing. They loved it.”

One of his favorite aspects of The Zebra is its Insurability Score.

The tool grades you (like a report card) on your driving record, annual mileage, insurance history, age and vehicle usage to determine your score, ranging from 400 to 950. You’re able to see how you compare to the average person in your area and see exactly what you can do to increase your Insurability Score and therefore decrease your rates.

The idea behind the score is to make car insurance more transparent — to help you understand why you’re paying what you’re paying or to know whether you deserve a lower rate.

Januario explains his situation before discovering The Zebra:

“It was just my agent telling me I was getting a good rate. Whereas with this, I can get a good rate for myself, because I know what I can control.”

The Zebra also housed all the information he needed. It fed him useful tips. For example, he learned if he paid for six months of insurance upfront, he could save money. He otherwise wouldn’t have known that.

Additionally, the site offered tons of articles and answered all his nitty-gritty questions: What if my friend is driving my car and gets into an accident? Why can’t you get insurance right before a hurricane?

He also loved that he could do a search online but then talk to a real-live human through The Zebra’s customer-service line.

The representative encouraged Januario to call back every six months or so, something he never previously considered. But because all those factors that loop into his Insurability Score can change within six months, he could get a better rate.

“Because even if it’s an extra $5 a month or whatever it is… it’s a couple of extra bucks in your pocket, which everybody loves,” he says.

With the $360 he’s saving this year by purchasing a plan through Kemper Insurance, Januario is hopping in his, ahem, insured Toyota Camry and taking a weekend road trip out to Texas Hill Country with his girlfriend.

“The Zebra is literally there to save me money, which I think at the end of the day, that’s what everybody wants,” he says.

To get your free car insurance quote, simply enter your zip code here. In about two minutes, The Zebra will aggregate a ton of options for you.

Carson Kohler ([email protected]) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.