One Year After Launch, Google Quitting Compare Auto Insuranc
February 24, 2016 by Renée Kiriluk-Hill, associate editor, BestWeek: firstname.lastname@example.org
OLDWICK, N.J. – Google is closing its Compare automobile insurance comparison site one year after its launch.
Some insurers that worked with Google Compare said they learned on Feb. 22 Google would close the site in a month’s time, but they expected little if any impact.
A USAA spokesman told Best’s News Service his company’s participation was on a pilot basis and the service’s end wouldn’t hurt business.
A Kemper spokeswoman said her company only operated with Google Compare in California, and only through one agent.
Google started with California and slowly expanded its reach to states such as Texas and Illinois. Its site on Feb. 23 said it was working with 28 insurers, including Mercury Insurance; USAA; MetLife Auto & Home; General Insurance; Infinity Auto, Home, Life, Business; Liberty Mutual Insurance; Kemper Specialty; and Stillwater Insurance Group.
That’s a fraction of the number of companies some other auto insurance comparison companies cite. The Zebra said this year it is licensed in all 50 states and issues quotes for more than 200 companies. Co-founder Adam Lyons told Best’s News Service his company has “relationships directly” with about 40 insurers and works “really closely” with the largest carriers (Best’s News Service, Jan. 29, 2016).
Another online comparison site, Insurify, said it was quoting 82 carriers in real time. Insurers are approaching Insurify to be partners, Snejina Zacharia, founder and chief executive officer, said. (Best’s News Service, Feb. 5, 2016)
Google Compare Auto Insurance Services Inc. was licensed in the District of Columbia and each state except Rhode Island.
USAA started working with Google Compare in June, but only in California. “We learned a lot from this pilot and look forward to exploring ways to work with Google on future projects that help us reach more potential members and create a seamless experience for those seeking USAA products and services,” the company said in a statement.
The service allowed consumers to compare auto insurance offerings from national and regional carriers. Policies could be purchased online or over the phone through a carrier’s agent force.
Robert Rusbuldt, president and CEO of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, said the “shuttering of Google Compare” leaves independent agents “well-positioned to take advantage of the marketplace void via TrustedChoice.com,” which links potential customers with independent agents and agencies.
He said in a statement online consumer shopping for insurance has “exploded.” Insurers such as Progressive Corp. are reporting gains in direct sales (Best’s News Service, Feb. 17, 2016).
Before its launch, industry experts said Google Compare could help insurers by providing another distribution source, but also felt there was potential for disruption because of questions about Internet search giant’s intentions (Best’s News Service, Jan. 13, 2015).
Google said earlier it was compensated through a cost-per-acquisition model, but that payment wasn’t a factor in comparison rankings or eligibility (Best’s News Service, March, 5, 2015).