Introducing ‘Ask an Agent’ for Auto Insurance Advice On Demand


Meet Neil Richardson, Your Car Insurance Genie

car insurance agent
This is me, Neil, very seriously addressing your auto insurance questions.
7 min read

Hi, I’m Neil, a licensed insurance agent and the resident insurance advisor here at The Zebra! I’ve worked in insurance for years, helping tens of thousands of drivers find the right coverage for them, and I love what I do. But when I first started out in the insurance world, I very quickly realized a few things about car insurance: It’s complicated, it’s confusing, and it can be incredibly difficult for consumers to get straightforward answers to their specific questions.

Drivers should be informed and empowered when they shop for car insurance, but unfortunately, many of the available car insurance resources are inaccurate, biased, or not specific enough to address one individual person’s question.

But those days are over!

I am proud (like Insurance-Nerd-Level-1,000 crazy proud) to introduce The Zebra’s newest insurance resource, Ask an Agent! And folks, in case you were wondering, that “agent” is me.

The launch of this amazing new resource means that I will be available to answer any and all of your most burning insurance questions — and fast. Ever heard a doctor say not to be embarrassed about asking a question about your health? Well, consider me your “insurance doctor,” who will answer any question you might have about car insurance, including those about your individual coverage needs or policy. There are no silly questions — trust me, I’ve heard them all!

While Ask an Agent isn’t for quoting or buying policies, it is a great resource for you to connect with me one on one so I can make sure you get the answers, information, and guidance you need to make informed decisions about your auto insurance coverage.

Ask an Agent

How Does Ask an Agent Work?

  1. Head to TheZebra.com/Ask.
  2. Submit your question (or questions) about car insurance via our online form.
  3. I will email an answer to you within 24 hours — and often much sooner!

Pretty sweet, huh?

I will post the most common questions to the Ask an Agent library (but won’t include names or personal info) to help out other shoppers who may have similar questions to yours. You can check some of these out now in our “Topics,” which include:

…And more!

Ask an Agent car insurance

People have already asked (and I’ve answered!) all sorts of stuff, like:

“Why am I considered ‘at fault’ in a rear-end collision?”

In the majority of cases, hitting a vehicle from behind will be considered an “at-fault accident” because insurance companies expect their customers to leave a safe amount of space between the front of their vehicles and the backs of the cars in front of them. If the person in front unexpectedly slams his brakes, a collision could purportedly have been avoided if the driver behind had kept a sufficient driving distance.

“Do parking tickets affect insurance?”

No, parking tickets do not get reported to your state’s DMV so they should not affect your insurance rate. However, failure to pay for the ticket could result in your license being suspended, which would affect your insurance rate especially if the state requires that you carry an SR22 to reinstate your license.

“Does my insurance cover lost car keys?”

Unfortunately, your personal property is not covered under any part of your auto insurance policy. Even if a personal item such as your keys (or sunglasses, laptop, phone, etc.) is stolen from your vehicle, it will have to be claimed under your renter’s or homeowner’s policy, though any resulting damage to your vehicle (like a smashed window) would be covered under comprehensive coverage on your auto policy.

“If I buy a policy today, will it cover damage that was already on my car?”

Nope. Auto insurance (and specifically physical damage coverage for your vehicle) is meant to provide coverage while you have an active policy. If you are without coverage and something happens to your car or you damage someone else’s vehicle, then you would have to pay for the damage out of your own pocket. Attempting to file a claim for damage that occurred prior to purchasing your policy is considered insurance fraud and can lead to serious legal consequences.

“What is ‘full coverage’ car insurance?”

Full coverage is a broad term most people use to describe an auto insurance policy that includes comprehensive and collision coverage. Full coverage means different things to different people because it’s not an actual meaningful insurance term and, therefore, does not specify individual coverage like roadside assistance or rental car reimbursement. It’s best not to use the term when shopping for a new policy but if you do, make sure you understand that if you want any coverage beyond comprehensive + collision, it’s up to you to request that as an add-on to your policy.

In addition to questions like these, I also get some as obscure and specific as: “If I wreck a friend’s car, do I have to tell them about it?” and “My dog stole my car and drove it into a tree. Who is at fault?” and even, “Does this policy make my hips look big?”

Ah, the life of an insurance agent.

So, seriously, don’t be shy to ask me anything about car insurance.

(Please note, however, that I will be utterly useless to you if you ask me about other topics, like home decorating or outer space or cats. Sorry folks, auto insurance is my jam!)

ask an agent
Hanging with my zebra buddy.

Am I Real?

Well, yeah, as far as I know, I’m real… Someone pinch me? Ouch! Yep, I’m real. With Ask an Agent, you’ll be getting answers that are concise and specific to your individual situation from me, a licensed insurance agent and expert, and not a robot living in a closet at some server farm.

In fact, here are five fun things about me that aren’t super insurance-y:

  1. I was born and raised in the Lone Star State, but have been through all 50 states.
  2. I love Tarantino movies, except for that stinker “The Hateful 8.”
  3. I make mean fajitas.
  4. I once met Kevin Costner at Universal Studios and he was really nice.
  5. When I’m not saving the day in my Zebra cape, you can usually find me enjoying all that the great city of Austin, Texas has to offer. (Unless it’s Sunday, in which case I’m impatiently awaiting the latest episode of “Game of Thrones” or shouting at the TV during football games.)

So now that you know a little about me, I’d like to know about you and help you with your car insurance needs.

Check out Ask an Agent – see ya there!