Google getting into the auto insurance business

Add insurance to the list of automotive products Google plans to offer US customers. Both Reuters and The Wall Street Journal report that the once-humble search engine has been talking to insurance companies for two years about creating a Google Compare site where customers can compare and buy policies, with the Internet giant taking a cut of each sale.

As of now, Google Compare Auto Insurance Services is cleared to sell insurance in 26 states, although the number of insurers that it can sell policies for up varies state by state; in Wisconsin, for instance, it's six insurers, but in Idaho, it's three. There is also a tie-up with existing comparison site CoverHound that allows Google Compare to sell through that other portal, but neither company is willing to get into specifics.

The move is said to be part of Google's ambition to create category-specific search avenues, as it's done with travel and is trying to do with shopping, so that it won't get left out as consumers find ways to deal more directly with retailers. The service, expected to start in Q1 of this year, might be new to us, but it's not new to Google; it has been operating comparison sites in the UK for services like insurance and mortgage quotes since 2012.

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