Google Compare for car insurance was introduced on Thursday in California, “with more states to follow,” the tech giant said.
“Google Compare for car insurance provides a seamless, intuitive experience for connecting with your customers online,” the company said in a news release sent out Wednesday evening that was under embargo until today. “Whether you’re a national insurance provider or one local to California, people searching for car insurance on their phone or computer can find you along with an apples-to-apples comparison of other providers all in as little as 5 minutes.”
Named as partners in the release are carriers Mercury Insurance and MetLIfe. Participation in Google Compare is based on a flexible cost-per-acquisition model, but payment isn’t a factor in ranking or eligibility, according to Google.
Google’s online comparison tool has a relatively simple portal, including a list of major carriers that have signed on as partners. Punch in a ZIP code and hit enter, and that brings visitors to a form for basic information, like name and date of birth. The site also offers visitors a choice to “speed things up” via an autofill feature. This may be particularly convenient for those who are signed into Google’s Chrome browser. Their information is easily filled in and saved as they go along filling out the form.
A spokesman for the Mountain View, Calif.-based company said it would not immediately comment on the product release.
According to the company statement, as Google Compare for car insurance rolls out to more states the company will also introduce ratings and reviews, as well as local agent support for providers with agent networks.
Google’s entry into the insurance marketplace has been much anticipated, and much talked about.
Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne has said Google’s rumored partnership with auto insurance comparison site compare.com (formerly comparenow.com) would be a disruptor to the insurance industry and possibly a boon to his business.
Compare.com declined to comment for this story.
Google Compare Auto Insurance Services Inc. has been licensed to sell insurance in at least 26 states and is working with several insurers including Dairyland, MetLife and Mercury Insurance, it was reported in January.
According to those early reports, Google could be working with CoverHound, which currently offers online quotes for multiple insurers including Hartford, esurance, 21st Century, Travelers, Safeco, National General, Progressive, Foremost, Plymouth Rock and others.
Google’s hand in mapping the globe via satellite and providing that information to drivers’ cellphones, and it’s role in building autonomous vehicles, positions the company to be a dominant force in insurance, some have reasoned.
W.R. Berkley Corp. CEO William R. Berkley said at a management seminar in late January that in certain respects, Google has the capacity to change auto insurance. Berkley said Google’s competitive advantage can’t be denied “because they invested this enormous sum of money in actively building a rule-road map of America.