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Intuit branches out, into insurance

Intuit is branching out from banking into insurance.

Intuit is branching out from banking into the other major financial service needed by most Americans: insurance.

Web surfers can now browse through information on life, automobile, and home insurance on the Quicken InsureMarket Web site. While only general information on insurance services is now available for free from InsureMarket, Intuit said users will be able to get real-time quotes on term life insurance and buy policies online by summer.

Initially, only five insurance companies will offer information online. Intuit hopes to have a large majority of regional insurance carriers offering quotes and selling policies at the site within the next 18 months, according to Bill Harris, executive vice president of Intuit.

"Intuit is not offering its own insurance products. We are setting up a non-biased tool; our goal is to become the most popular source for insurance information on the Web," Harris said in a teleconference call. He added that Intuit doesn't expect the site to be profitable for another one or two years.

Intuit is offering the services through the Interactive Insurance Services, which the company is negotiating to buy for $8.9 million, according to Bloomberg news service.