QuickenInsurance.com has been named the top Internet insurance site in a study by Gomez Advisors Inc.
The Mountain View, Calif., company, which offers instant auto and life quotes, "has taken steps to streamline the process of purchasing insurance - especially automobile policies - online," the study said.
QuickenInsurance, a wholly owned subsidiary of Intuit, edged Insweb for first place. Insurance.com, YouDecide.com, and QuickQuote.com rounded out the top five.
Gomez Advisors' quarterly "Internet Insurance Marketplace Scorecard" focuses on four criteria: ease of use, customer confidence, on-site resources, and relationship services.
Insurance sites can become important partners when banks want to outsource commodity lines, such as personal property and casualty, said James Overholt, senior consultant for Milliman & Robertson Inc., Chicago.
"It's much like the way some banks link to a Charles Schwab or Fidelity in the brokerage business," Mr. Overholt said. "If the bank decides to link to the Inswebs of the world, that's like outsourcing it, which is fine."
Insweb, of Redwood City, Calif., has agreements with banks including PNC Financial Services Group of Pittsburgh and Wingspan.com, which is owned by Bank One.
Greg Jones, a spokesman for Insweb, said the company has "a keen interest in continuing to partner with banks, whether it's by a link or by Insweb technology powering the bank's Web site. We have over 200 online partners, including E-Trade and E-Loan."
Steven Aldrich, president of QuickenInsurance, said he thinks banks will become a more important ally as more customers bank online.
"Banks are moving their customers online, but it's been a slow process," Mr. Aldrich said. "As they do it, we want to be there distributing our Quicken products."
According to the Gomez study, "Insweb provides a robust selection of decision support tools and a comprehensive array of educational information on topics ranging from safe driving to life insurance policy types. Consumers can save quotes for retrieval in subsequent visits."
However, it falls short because consumers can complete the purchase of policies only in California and with only one insurer, Reliance Personal, the study said.
QuickenInsurance also has shortcomings, according to the study: It does not offer homeowners' insurance quotes online, it does not offer auto quotes in Massachusetts and North Carolina, and its login page is not encrypted.