Google will no longer be selling point and click auto insurance. On March 23rd, Google Compare will end operations. Many industry experts — like PIA National’s Executive Vice President and CEO Mike Becker — said the independent insurance agent is the reason. People want the service only in person contact with independent agent can provide.
Here’s Google’s statement:
“Despite people turning to Google for financial services information, the Google Compare service itself hasn’t driven the success we hoped for. We greatly appreciate your partnership and understand that this decision will be disappointing to some. But after a lot of careful consideration, we’ve decided that focusing more intently on AdWords and future innovations will enable us to provide fresh, comprehensive answers to Google users, and to provide our financial services partners with the best return on investment.”
Google Compare also did other financial services like credit cards, banking and mortgage products. Those operations will cease as well.
The agent angle — says Forrester’s North American Financial Services Online Benchmark Recontact Survey 2015 — may not be the only reason. In fact, marketing and an inability to attract some of the bigger auto insurers also appear to have contributed to Google Compare’s demise.
The Forrester survey found 39% of the 10,000 surveyed hadn’t heard of Google Compare at all but were interested in what it had to offer.
Vertafore’s VP of marketing Guy Weismantel said Google’s problem was not realizing it makes money to make money in insurance. In other words, as noted in the Forrester study, no one knew Google was offering auto insurance. “I don’t know if the average consumer had the awareness that Google had an insurance product. It was a space that already had a lot of big, established players. Google coming in didn’t create another category. Actually they were another product in that category.”
On the other hand, the Deloitte Center for Financial Services said the agent angle may be valid. It’s survey says 83% of American small business owners like and are happy with their independent insurance agent.
PIA’s Becker said the major reason for Google Compare’s undoing is independent agents. “Google has apparently discovered what independent insurance agents have always known: When it comes to insurance, customers appreciate that it is a complex transaction that requires professional advice. PIA’s research has consistently shown a strong preference among both personal lines and commercial lines customers for doing business with a local agent.”
Steve Anderson — an insurance technology consultant — put Becker’s comment in perspective last year when he told PropertyCasualty360.com that, “An independent agent can't out-Google Google, but they can out-local Google. Most agents have a local presence, which is where Google will have a much harder time.”
While Google Compare attracted some carriers like MetLife, Dairlyland, Mercury and Viking, it wasn’t able to attract the nation’s bigger auto insurers like Allstate and Progressive. And though Google Compare is licensed to operate in 49 states, it only launched in four and not the dozen promised originally.
The rumor mill says the company plans to “retool” and improve the customer experience with another launch in the future. And many — like Forrester’s Ellen Carney — are warning independent agents not to gloat. “You are going to have some insurance carriers who think the lesson is going to be ‘we can fall back on what we did before.’ But the smart ones will understand that Google is tweaking their offering and coming back.”
Novarica’s Matt Josefowicz agrees. “Google isn’t leaving insurance. They’ve decided that selling through aggregators isn’t the right play for them right now. They continue to dominate in advertising, and their data-related capabilities like Google Maps are in wide use. They may have realized it’s a better business for them to sell supplies than take the field themselves.”
Source links: PIA National, Insurance Journal, Carrier Management, PropertyCasualty360.com, Insurance Business America, Insurance Networking News