Blog

A Digital and Distribution Re-Direct

Carrie Burns
Insurance Experts' Forum, June 27, 2014

A dozen undisclosed U.S. insurers are underwriting auto insurance products for Overstock.com Inc., an online retailer that is adding insurance to its inventory of offerings; through its website, retail giant Walmart is offering auto insurance through a partnership with AutoInsurance.com; AXA has partnered with Facebook to develop its digital, social and mobile footprint in France. These are just some of the recent partnerships that are making headlines at insurancenetworking.com and that are set to change the direction of distribution.

Overstock.com sells a range of products including furniture, electronics, clothing and cars, and recently began offering insurance for vehicles, residences and small businesses on its online exchange, which enables consumers to compare live quotes for residential, vehicle and small business insurance products, and pay for insurance policies.

Walmart is currently working with AutoInsurance.com, an aggregator that offers quotes from, Esurance, Safeco, The General and other insurers. Walmart customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas will be able to access the service directly from Walmart’s website. More states are reportedly in the works.

AXA’s partnership with Facebook to develop its digital, social and mobile footprint is specific to France. However, as Strategy Meets Action’s Denise Garth has said, this move goes beyond having a presence on social media to embracing the power of a platform as the foundation of a new customer engagement model. “Being a digital insurer is so much more than just having a website or portal for customers and agents. It’s more than using channels like social media as a point of sale vehicle or advertising arm, and is more than having a mobile app to report claims,” Garth writes in a blog on insurancenetworking.com.

“Being a digital insurer is a powerful combination, integration and intersection of the website, mobile platforms, social media, mobile messaging, location services, crowdsourcing, business and customer applications, online video, content management, customer communications, sales enablement, branding and marketing — that creates a seamless, engaging customer experience.”

I would add just one more thing to Garth’s list — partnerships. As evidenced above, we’ve seen some non-traditional partnerships over the past couple months. We’ll see what comes of them. In the meantime, what’s next? As our cover story suggests, for the auto insurance industry, a lot, especially in the area of telematics and the self-driving car. Partnership with self-driving car manufacturers? Partnership with Google? Which insurer will be first? And when, if at all, will it happen? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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