Aug 5 2013
When you hear the term “insurance panda,” some thoughts may come to mind. For example, you may surmise (and hope) that Geico ditched that annoying talking Aussie lizard, put up some billboards inside the panda den at the National Zoo, and gave the beloved Mei Xiang a name-change: the insurance panda. But alas, that’s not the case. (Apparently Geico’s marketing department has charts to prove that customers love being barraged by an annoying talking Aussie lizard.) But there is good news, and it’s this: there’s a site that acts as an auto insurance clearinghouse, enabling cost-conscious drivers to educate themselves around various providers (including the aforementioned Geico) save money, and do so all without legal mumbo-jumbo. And it just so happens to be called Insurance Panda. What are the odds?
To these eyes, Insurance Panda is a lot like a JD Power, but for auto insurers. You know JD Powers, don’t you? They are the folks that objectively rate cars, whether it’s around comfort, safety, value, etc. Over the years they’ve become the go-to guys (and gals) if you want an honest shake regarding a new or used car. And what makes JD Power – and by extension, Insurance Panda – so valuable? Information. Because information is (JD) power. (Whoa!)
Let us explain.
Insurance Panda is structured such that viewers can glean useful information in a quick and understandable way. Again, no proverbial lawyers lurking over the proceedings. Let’s take their Insurance Guide. It’s broken up across six key sub-categories, a few of which we’ll highlight here, starting with Car Insurance Quotes. Here the Panda (not sure if it’s a guy or a girl) will determine your auto quote via its calculator by considering the following information: your car, your driving record, your vehicle history, your credit score, and your neighborhood. Its back-end algorithm shakes up the information and spits out a quote that you can live (or not) live with. If it’s too steep, you can tweak the premiums and deductibles and such to get something more appetizing. This part is cool because, naturally, it saves you time. I mean, we use aggregation tools everyday to find the cheapest deal – be it flights on Kayak, hotels on Orbitz, etc. – and now we can do the same on Insurance Panda.
But massaging premiums and deductibles and such isn’t as easy as we so cavalierly made it sound. That is, you need to know what affects what – a decimal point here and there, and suddenly we’re talking real money. And Insurance Panda’s Car Insurance Comparison page gives you the tools to intelligently tweak the numbers. (After all, just because the Panda appears to be chewing straw doesn’t mean he/she’s not working hard for you.) Then, of course, there are the auto insurance companies themselves. Insurance Panda’s Car Insurance Companies page lists them all on one page, each with their customer satisfaction score as pulled from insure.com. These scores take a look at the average score for each insurance company’s claims processing, customer service, value for price, and additional factors (including, perhaps, insidious reptilian mascots.)
Now let’s do a quick thought experiment. Let’s say you were starting from scratch in terms of finding auto insurance. It’d go like this. First, you’d call, say, State Farm. You’d be on the phone for 35 minutes (if you’re lucky), get your quote, write down the information, and hang up. Then you’d call Allstate and do the same. Then you’d call Nationwide. Then Geico. Then Progressive. Perhaps by this point you’d make a nifty little spreadsheet comparing stuff. Except, actually, you’re terrible at spreadsheets and you accidentally pressed a button that deleted everything! Oh, but then you pressed another button and recovered it! Next, you narrowed your choice down to, say, three contenders, but want to understand how minor tweaks to your plan can affect your rates. So you Google “how minor tweaks to your plan affect your rates.” The Google Search results are uninspiring. You’re demoralized. You’re hungry. You want a sandwich.
With Insurance Panda, however, you can do all of these steps on one web page, and do it much quicker, and do it for free. And that’s why we like it, and that’s why, if you’re considering a new auto plan, or looking to change an existing one, you owe it to yourself to give it a spin (get it? Spin?) And as a bonus, there will be no annoying, almost patronizing mascots to deal with.
Which brings us to our final point. In addition to providing scintillating start-up features, SlapStart occasionally gives illuminating marketing advice, free of charge. And last we checked Panda Express, the fast-food Chinese chain, had a panda as their mascot. But check it out – it’s kinda lame. (And besides “Panda Express” makes no sense. Pandas move slowly. What’s next – Tortoise Lightning? Sloth Blitzkrieg?) Anyway, our point: there’s ample opportunity here for the Insurance Panda to corner the “erudite, accountant-like” mascot market. I’m thinking bifocals, a clipboard, and maybe a nice Cardigan sweater. That’s gold, baby, gold!