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Google Compares Personal Auto Rates

Make no mistake about it, Google Compare is not the newest member of the personal auto insurance market in the United States. The emphasis clearly was on the word “not,” (written in all capital letters) on one of the first slides of a presentation to industry leaders made by Nicolas Weng Kan, CEO of Google Compare.

Weng Kan appeared at the Bolt Executive Summit in early May to speak with a group of insurance and IT leaders. Weng Kan once worked in the automobile insurance arena and most recently headed up Google Compare’s UK operations.

The U.S. business launched in March and though Weng Kan did not have much data to share with the audience on the new venture, he made it clear that data is Google’s chief business.

What Weng Kan was able to offer were a few lessons from the UK, where he claims much of the new business in personal auto originates from aggregators.

With the growth of mobile searches, Weng Kan made it clear that developing a mobile platform had to come before a desktop version.

“More queries are done on mobile devices in the U.S.,” he says. Sixty-eight percent of consumers between the ages of 18 to 34 annually consider changing auto insurers. Such a tactic is where many businesses are headed.

“People have always come to Google to search for insurance companies,” says Weng Kan. “Customers are not finding all the answers they need, though, which is why we developed Google Compare. Presenting them relevant information at the right time is another service we can offer.”

Using a comparison website is part of the consumer research plan. Weng Kan believes consumers are more sophisticated and that research involves more than just determining which company has the lowest price.

Google Compare lists the lowest price first when a search is conducted, but Weng Kan points out that in the UK, only 36 percent of the sales resulting from the price comparison site go to the insurer with the lowest price.

Five insurance brands account for six percent of the top position comparisons, but over 25 percent of sales conversions.

“Brand strength matters for certain demographics, but some brands convert sales even in position five of the comparison,” he says.

He believes the approach carriers take to aggregation and fulfillment takes effort and understanding of the needs of the customers.

“Participation in comparison shopping is a strategic decision that will set the course of your company for the next few years,” he says.

Weng Kan feels the benefits to consumers from Google Compare come down to three points: They can get price quotes from multiple insurers within 10 minutes; there is only one form that needs to be filled; and insurers taking part in the site are not allowed to spam the customers.

As for insurer benefits, he points out there is no cost involved for qualified leads and the leads generally come from highly-qualified consumers. Google Compare also asks more questions of the customers so more information is available to determine whether this is a driver the insurer wants to do business with.

“Customers should be as close as possible to a bindable quote,” says Weng Kan.

Google Compare earns its money when a policy is sold through one of the leads, adds Weng Kan. “We don’t get paid by ranking; only if someone buys a policy,” he says.

Google Compare is not available in all 50 states just yet. It currently has a roster of more than 14 insurance carriers supplying rates, including Mercury Insurance, The General, Infinity Auto Insurance, and MetLife Auto & Home.


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