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The real reason behind all those insurance commercials, and why they don’t want you to know about independent insurance agents

Flo from Progressive

The Nationwide Super Bowl commercial about  a child who drowns and will never live his dreams caused quite a stir. But this commercial was just one of dozens of insurance commercials we get bombarded with every time we watch television. And while this commercial may have backfired on Nationwide as a Superbowl “downer,” it raises the issues of emotional manipulation and the calculated, extensive brand strategy that car insurance companies use in advertising.

Incidentally, here is the Nationwide commercial in case you missed it.

Insurance companies spend close to $6 billion in 2014 on ads across all media, with television accounting for the largest medium, according to marketing research firm Kantar Media. That’s an astonishing budget.  And yes, while some of those commercials are targeted toward lawyers and “tort reform” propaganda, most of it has to do with encouraging us to choose one insurance company over another.

But why do car insurance companies advertise so much? What is it about perky Flo of the Progressive commercials?  What is it with the Allstate “Mayhem” commercials, or GEICO geckos? Or Peyton Manning humming the Nationwide jingle, that got dumped in favor of children drowned in baths, killed by chemicals in a kitchen cabinet, or crushed by a falling television? And seriously, Nationwide, what were you thinking, anyways?

What is the one thing all of these insurance companies don’t want you to do?

These insurers run ads all year long, spending billions of dollars. But people usually never think about buying insurance until they need to renew their policies. And so we have all of these commercials that aim to create an emotional branding connection with you, so you will buy direct –  without evaluating your best options or shopping competitors.

After all, there is no need.  Progressive says they will do it for you.

But that’s a big mistake.

The best thing you can do to save money when buying insurance is to take a step back from all of the advertising noise and evaluate your options. That means consulting with an independent insurance agent.

Independent agents represent many different insurance companies and do not have a conflict of interest in selling you a policy from only one particular company. After all, if a “captive” agent can’t offer a specific product or at a certain price, they lose the sale entirely.

Independent agents can  become familiar with your situation and guide you toward a more suitable policy that  works for you. Our attorneys do not vouch for any particular one of these independent agents, but the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, Inc. is a great resource to start when searching for independent insurance agents.

In Michigan, where I practice law, there is the Michigan Association of Professional Insurance Agents (MIPIA) and the Michigan Association of Independent Agents (MAIA).

And is it just me, or are all of those Flo commercials getting really annoying?

Related information:

Tips for choosing the best auto insurance company


  1. Gravatar for Dominic Jiminez

    I was not surprised by the advert because this business is driven by the fear of extreme loss and most of the advertising agencies do not know or are not smart enough to exploit it in a subtle way, instead of going full throttle, showing the 'real stuff'.

    1. Great correction! After seeing about 200 State Farm Mayhem commercials during football games, you'd think no one could ever forget that!

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