Seems like Tightwad can provide good information here. He's been around here for a long time and knows an experienced agent well.
Thanks DH. I appreciate the vote of confidence.
I am personally not a big fan of insurance companies in general but I do think people should carry adequate insurance and do so myself. All of our insurance comes from State Farm. We have shopped it around a few years ago and no one could beat it with solid companies. If I were you I would thoroughly investigate any company you buy insurance from.
I'm not a fan of insurance companies either. Most are just out there to screw you when you need them most. State Farm is a very solid company that will give good rates if you have a good driving record, no claims history, good credit, & buy their other non-insurance products (which could be a whole 'nother thread on it's own!). If you aren't a top shelf customer, I wouldn't even quote SF since they'll be so expensive you'll go somewhere else for insurance.
You really must keep in mind that any company can make it easy to collect premiums but you really have to look into how well they pay claims. There are plenty of companies that have cheap premiums because it is virtually impossible to collect from them when something happens. Do you really want that? If you want to hear a real horror story look up what Progressive recently did to a customer.
I made the Progressive mistake once....never again!!!
With regard to credit checks, no legitimate insurance company can pull your credit in a way that will impact you (hard pull) without your expressed permission. If they do, please contact the FBI because it may be a violation of federal law that could get the individual who did it imprisoned. We need more of that to keep these companies honest. But for the most part they don't do it and use "soft pulls" instead that don't effect your credit.
As far as sharing information...again, your privacy is protected but only if you don't give them the authority to share your information. Most people do that through inaction. If they know something you have not shared, get in their face and demand to know how they know it and what authority they have to record the information. I've done it, it's slightly embarrassing the first time but not nearly embarrassing as it is for the insurance agent that is worried that he has committed a crime and could lose his license and his livelihood.
I agree with what DH is saying here but I will add one caveat to this. Hard pulls are sometimes legit even if you did not apply for a loan, credit, insurance, etc recently but you do have an on going financial relationship with the company doing the credit check. For example, a bank might do an annual file review (including a hard credit pull) if you have an active HELOC at their bank. The loan may have been taken out 5 years ago but somewhere in the fine print that you signed gives them the authority to do so regardless of how old the loan is.