Google's Foray Into Auto Insurance

In January, rumors surrounding Google’s entry into the auto insurance space ramped up significantly.  The company had provided auto insurance comparison shopping in the U.K. since 2012, so it was widely speculated that this service would eventually come to the U.S.

In March, Google launched the service in California, with 14 carriers participating.  Now, Google is up to 17 carriers but has not expanded to additional states.  The tech giant has licenses to sell auto insurance in 49 states plus the District of Columbia — but curiously does not have a license for Rhode Island.

Google has openly established that it is working with CoverHound to power this comparison engine.  Forrester suggested that Google might be buying the LA-based insurance solutions company, but this hasn’t transpired.  CoverHound isn’t shy about their relationship either, and recently raised $14 million in Series B financing.

A few relevant thoughts:



The auto insurance industry is one of the search engine's most lucrative sources of income. How will it not kill the golden goose?  It’s clear that Google is sensitive to this issue, putting the comparison engine below the top two ad spots (Figure 1).  Examining the company’s roster of carriers, it’s evident that none of its major advertisers are participating.  When searching for a participating carrier, the comparison module goes away entirely (Figure 2).



It appears that most of the larger carriers are happy to continue to use Google as an advertising platform and wait to see what happens with the comparison engine.  Google’s relatively methodical expansion since the launch in March would suggest that it can take its time figuring this out.

Google won’t stop with auto insurance.  Google Flights was rated by Lifehacker as the best travel booking site in June.  In February, Google launched a mobile mortgage calculator that launches from questions asked via OK, Google (Google’s mobile search interface).  Google provides comparison tools for credit cards, food. and soon, mortgages.  Bottom line, Google might soon be actively competing for prospects in your industry.

What this means for advertisers, search marketers and comparison sites remains to be seen.  Google still makes nearly all of its money in advertising.  And its comparison tools will likely be built around the products that drive the most advertising revenue.  Unlike organic content, which Google seems to appropriate in an effort to improve the user experience, Google’s own commerce efforts cannot interfere with its primary growth engine.

As always, pay close attention to what Google is doing with results pages for your top search categories.  Elements change every day, as evidenced today when ads on my search results pages only appeared at the top and bottom of the page.  As I put the finishing touches on the closing paragraph, ads on the right rail suddenly reappeared.

3 comments about "Google's Foray Into Auto Insurance".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Robi Garcia from YV Digital Marketing Services, August 20, 2015 at 2:33 p.m.

    Google Compare is now providing quotes in Texas.

  2. Kenneth Hittel from Ken Hittel, August 20, 2015 at 5:56 p.m.

    And I believe in Illinois and Pennsylvannia as well. Once they reach NY, it won't be but a matter of a few months b4 they're in uh everywhere... 

  3. Terry Golesworthy from THE CUSTOMER RESPECT GROUP, August 24, 2015 at 8:58 a.m.

    Google is not selling insurance. It is doing what search engines do, help people narow choice.
    The process of comparing insurance policies today is archaic - they are solving a problem the industry is unwilling to do itself.

    Google Compare is a verticle market search engine, albeit quite limited today. Nothing to stop it selling ads etc on the insurance serach engine.


Next story loading loading..