Surf for Life Insurance

There are plenty of Web sites that offer quotes -- just make sure you know what you're getting.

The Web makes it easy to search for insurance; there's no shortage of sites that provide quick price quotes for dozens of companies. Unfortunately, the prices are often wrong. So if one site lists lower prices for a company than another site, don't assume you've found a better deal.

A premium can't be accurately estimated if it's based solely on your birthday, height and weight -- which is all that some Internet interviews request. Other factors -- such as your health, your family's medical history, your driving record, travel, hobbies and a variety of other details -- should enter into the mix. Internet sites that don't ask for all of your background information often quote prices that are lower than almost anyone could actually qualify for. You may not find out the real cost until you take a medical exam and the insurance company spends weeks reviewing your medical records.

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Kimberly Lankford
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

As the "Ask Kim" columnist for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Lankford receives hundreds of personal finance questions from readers every month. She is the author of Rescue Your Financial Life (McGraw-Hill, 2003), The Insurance Maze: How You Can Save Money on Insurance -- and Still Get the Coverage You Need (Kaplan, 2006), Kiplinger's Ask Kim for Money Smart Solutions (Kaplan, 2007) and The Kiplinger/BBB Personal Finance Guide for Military Families. She is frequently featured as a financial expert on television and radio, including NBC's Today Show, CNN, CNBC and National Public Radio.