The days of traveling insurance salesmen knocking at your door may be numbered, thanks to the Web.
Yahoo (YHOO), in conjunction with InsWeb, tomorrow
will announce a service under the Yahoo Finance section that lets users
compare quotes and estimates for automobile, life, health, homeowners', and
The launch of the Yahoo Insurance
Center, which is now live, follows closely on the heels of America Online's entry into the insurance
AOL last month announced that
it will offer users of both its online service and its Web site discounted
health insurance through Provident American. That exclusive partnership,
which launches in October, will let users buy insurance online.
InsWeb only provides insurance quotes and estimates at this point, but
company spokesman Greg Berardi said the company plans to sell insurance
online at some point in the future.
"Our goal is to do end-to-end insurance sales, but now we're focused on
what consumers really want, and that's comparison shopping," Berardi said. "Payment takes a
pretty short time in the process, and what's really important is the
ability to get quotes without having to spend the time making phone
InsWeb is free, as is the Yahoo Insurance Center. InsWeb makes money by
collecting customers' valuation criteria, such as car model, home value,
and various risk factors, and calculating risk and rates using insurance
providers' own formulas. Once InsWeb produces the quotes, consumers can
then opt to send insurance carriers their personal information. At that
point, InsWeb collects a fee from the insurance carrier.
Quotes are actual figures from individual insurance providers calculated
with customers' personal information. Estimates are ballpark industry
InsWeb does not have advertisements on its site. "We want to provide
unbiased information, and advertising might undercut that image in some
consumers' eyes," Berardi said.
Terms of the deal with Yahoo were not disclosed, but it does not prevent
Yahoo from putting advertising on the Insurance Center.
InsWeb and the Yahoo Insurance Center will offer auto quotes from eight
insurance carriers; life insurance quotes from three carriers; health
insurance from two carriers in two states; and homeowner and renter
insurance estimates. Quotes for homeowners and renters will be added in the
next few quarters, according to Berardi. Additional health insurance information
is also slated for the future.
Yahoo's Insurance Center offers the same functionality and content as
InsWeb, which includes research information and analytical tools. Yahoo
users will get a few extra features, including a health insurance
needs analyzer to help users determine what kind of health plan they