Esurance, which raised its profile with a deal to market auto insurance through E-Loan, seeks to sell insurance through online links at the sites of banks, credit card companies, and other financial institutions.
The San Francisco-based online insurer said last week that it will provide its line of auto insurance services - including quotes, comparisons with other providers, customizable coverage, immediate purchase and download of proof of insurance, and policy management tools - on the site of Dublin, Calif.-based E-Loan.
Jean-Bernard Duler, chief executive officer of Esurance, said the service will help banks, credit card companies, or other institutions that do not want to own an underwriter to offer customized insurance services. "As these banks are setting up an online bank, it's just natural to include either annuity or [property and casualty] business," he said.
"Insurance companies have been fighting banks forever. Within the industry there is a big fear of banks' getting into the business," Mr. Duler said. "What we do is the opposite. We are providing a turnkey operation for anybody who is in financial services."
Esurance sells insurance in 16 states, with plans to expand in the next year. It offers auto insurance and is developing products to insure motorcycles, recreational vehicles, personal watercraft, and homes.
E-Loan markets consumer loans and debt management services online. It closed more than $1.5 billion in consumer loans in 1999. The company formed an alliance with Charles Schwab & Co. in April to market mortgages to Schwab's online investment service customers, and Schwab also provided some needed cash for the site, giving $10 million in funding, as part of a group that invested $40 million.
Doug Galen, E-Loan's vice president of business development, said, "A key component of our growth is where we have been trusted with the customer experience of some very important companies," including Charles Schwab and H&R Block. The Esurance deal provides another service and helps solidify the E-Loan brand, he said.
"E-Loan's mission is to educate and empower people to make informed decisions," Mr. Galen said. "It's a natural extension of the service we provide to help them with the next step of the financing, which is to insure whatever it is they just bought," he said, adding that consumers often ask E-Loan representatives for insurance advice.
"Insurance companies are looking for the optimal time to identify new customers every day, and the most optimal time they have found is when someone is financing an event," such as an auto purchase, Mr. Galen said. E-Loan has plans to offer homeowner insurance through the site, he said, but it has not decided on an insurance provider.