Strategy & Execution

How to compete with Google Compare insurance

Search engine giant, Google, is planning to launch an auto insurance comparison shopping site in the U.S. in Q1 2015, according to Forrester Research analyst, Ellen Carney.  Google also appears to be acquiring CoverHound, a San Francisco-based auto insurance site.

The original Google Compare site debuted in the UK in 2012, offering auto and travel insurance as well as mortgage quotes.  Carney speculates that Google intends to displace existing middlemen – personal lines agents.

As of January 2015, Google Compare is licensed to do business in Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Dairyland, MetLife, Mercury, Permanent General Assurance, Viking Insurance of Wisconsin, and Workmen’s have authorized Google to transact business on their behalf.  Carney states that she believes many other carriers are “taking a wait-and-see approach before jumping on.”

When Google Compare begins to compete against major personal lines insurers, analysts anticipate that they will turn their attention to the mid-market business segment, making it critical for agents and brokers to develop a strong differentiation strategy now.   With intense global competition, customer price sensitivity, and commoditization of the auto insurance industry looms, it is absolutely essential that you develop a strategy to distinguish yourself in the marketplace…to add value to the insurance transaction.

John Quelch, Senior Associate Dean of Business Administration at Harvard Business School suggests:

  1. Innovate. Work with your carriers to offer new products that better meets your consumers’ needs, even if it’s an upgrade of an existing product.  This tactic can “one-up” competitors and force them to invest in matching or exceeding your offering.
  2. Bundle. Sell the commoditized product with differentiated ancillary services.  Many consumers will pay a premium for convenience.
  3. Segment. Focus on providing high levels of service and expertise to less price-sensitive customer segments for whom the cheaper product is important.

Dean Quelch states, “However you approach commoditization, try to innovate at all costs.”

How are you approaching Google Compare?

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