Intuit Inc. will allow insurance companies to sell their products over the Internet from the Quicken financial network Web site.
Insurance information from four charter members became available on the site last week, and individualized rate quotes will be available later in the year.
Bill Harris, executive vice president of Intuit, said his company hopes the site will provide "a nonbiased channel to help consumers find the best insurance products."
Lincoln Benefit Life, a subsidiary of Allstate Life Insurance Co., and Zurich Direct, a unit of Zurich Kemper Life, will sell life insurance. TIG Insurance Co., formerly known as Transamerica Insurance Group, will sell automobile and homeowner policies.
Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. will use the Web site only to provide information and refer potential customers to nearby branch offices.
"We like the fact that it can access a very wide distribution system," said Brenda Kai, a spokeswoman for TIG. "This is an opportunity to put our big toe in and experience the Internet."
Intuit officials hope that most major insurance carriers eventually will offer their services through the site. Users of Intuit's Quicken financial software already have access to PC home banking through arrangements between their banks and Intuit, which is based in Mountain View, Calif. "Once the advantages of insurance in an on-line environment are made apparent, this will catch on very quickly," said Phoebe Simpson, an analyst with Jupiter Communications Co. in New York. "It is by far the best Interactive insurance service on line."
Developed by Alexandria, Va.-based Interactive Insurance Services, the site was integrated into the Quicken financial network after Intuit acquired IIS last month. The site is available on the Web at http://www.qfn.com.