Why Google Just Gave Up On Auto Insurance
Parting is such sweet sorrow—especially when it’s with a tool that was supposed to make auto insurance comparison shopping so much better. We’re talking about Google Compare—the formidable partnership between Google, Compare.com, CoverHound, and ITC that launched in March 2015 and is now purportedly closing up shop.
In the past couple days, word has been spreading that Google is pulling the plug on its plunge into auto insurance comparison shopping as well as its comparison tools for bank and mortgage products and credit cards. The shutdown is supposedly happening because of roadblocks by car insurance companies and regulators. It’s also been circulating that Google wants to refocus on improving consumer product sites and the “customer experience.” Another rumor is that in the nine months since launching Google Compare, it has only spread to a handful of states when it was supposed to be in the double digits by now.
“We can’t integrate as quickly with companies as fast as we thought. We can’t get the regulators to say yes to everything we demand. When we get a company to embrace the idea of online shopping, they say ‘This is terrific. We’re all in. Let’s start in Iowa,” according to Brian Sullivan, editor for Risk Information, recalling a conversation with a Google Compare executive, in a recent article.
Whatever the real reason, it’s caused Google to put a halt on its work toward an online auto insurance comparison site—temporarily or permanently.
What does this mean for the auto insurance world? If you’re an independent auto insurance agent, it could be very happy news. When the news first broke that Google was entering the car insurance market, CEO of W.R. Berkley Corp., William R. Berkley, said independent agents should, “be afraid, be very afraid.” That’s because Google is an internet giant that is deep into the development of its very own self-driving cars. Google knows the traffic rules, hazards, and details of every backroad, highway, and turnpike in America. That gives the company the ability to tailor auto insurance rates to a never-before-seen accuracy that even telematics hasn’t touched. While the debate is still there that people will always go to independent agents for personalized service, the idea of a giant competitor closing its doors has to be comforting to say the least.
Google Compare’s temporary or permanent shutdown has a different meaning for customers looking for the best rates. This was a possibility to get extremely accurate data about car insurance rates for every individual, so it’s somewhat of a step in the wrong direction. Never fear though. There are still a number of great tools out there that can help you compare prices. For now, Google’s name just isn’t written all over them.