But these days we have something called the Internet, which has been responsible for a whole new way of doing business, and continues to help towards an evolution of business and new emerging markets.
There are many ways in which the Internet has changed and affected the insurance industry.
1) You can now get car insurance quotes online - direct to your computer.
2) You now have access to a wide range of insurance companies - and they are able to reach you much more easily.
You no longer have to just rely on those you know or have heard about, neither do you have to rely only on those you find in the yellow pages.
3) Because of point two, smaller companies are now also able to reach the market, and niche companies are being formed (this phenomena is often known as the "Long Tail").
4) You can get several quotes on your computer from several car insurance companies all at once through using internet websites like price comparison websites 5) You can do your shopping and price comparing much more easily, conveniently, and you can compare a greater number of quotes on your computer.
With all the choice and information the Internet provides, how can you tell which insurance company is best for you? Well, you can obviously start with the price, but you must remember that some insurance companies are very well priced but hardly ever pay out when you need to claim - with a whole host of excuses.
This means that you must scan your policy well, and you cannot just accept whatever you read on the Internet or what a salesman says.
All insurance companies offer something different, even if the policies are called the same.
For instance, although insurance companies in the UK will all offer the same basic types of insurance - Third Party Only, Third Party Fire & Theft, and Fully Comprehensive - each insurance company's policies will be different and there will be many changes in the details.
As an example, some insurance companies will insist on you only doing a certain amount of mileage in a year and, if you go over the limit, the policy is not valid; or some may cover you not only in the UK but also across Europe, at no extra cost, while others you have to pay more or your insurance policy changes substantially in different European countries.
The amount of excess you pay also changes from policy to policy.
Often you will get a computer quote that looks great, but only because it is calculated with a high excess.
So you can't really compare one price to another if the excess is affecting the price.
This means that, when you get quotes and want to compare prices, get quotes with all the same amount of excess.
The amount of medical costs the insurance company will pay also varies, and this is something you need to remember when you accept a quote or compare quotes.