Insurance Agents Urged to Follow Overstock.com, Insuritas Online Sales Model

By Amy O' Connor | May 2, 2014

  • May 2, 2014 at 1:35 pm
    philip says:
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    I’ve turned away homes with 3 layers of comp shingles, unrepaired hail damage, all kinds of junk in the yard and pit bulls guarding all this crap. Now I have a place to send them to!

    • May 2, 2014 at 3:21 pm
      Roxanne says:
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      what a great idea. I too will start sending folks that dont want to maintain their homes to Walmart. Let’s all welcome WALMART to the insurance family.

  • May 2, 2014 at 1:51 pm
    AgencyEquity says:
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    The problem with this kind of thinking is that one size does not fit all, it misses the point of providing advice and presumes that insurance is all the same. There are different market segments out there, there are also hundreds of different types of insurance policy types. Some people want to do things online, others have more sophisticated needs and demand professional expertise. This is especially true with higher net-worth personal lines and almost all of commercial lines. Most Insurance by Agents is submitted online, if it were that easy, they would be able to transfer the portal from agent to consumer. But it’s not happening because there are a number of variables that make it very difficult, including the knowledge, professional advice and account management that is needed to make sure things are being done properly. Lastly, America is a marketplace of options, that is what makes us great, for one person to say “this is the only way to do it” is not accurate as this has never been the case in America.

    • May 2, 2014 at 2:01 pm
      james says:
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      AgencyEquity, although I agree, I think most consumers don’t really care, and think of insurance, esp. Personal Lines, as a commodity. This trend is not good for the traditional agency model.

    • May 2, 2014 at 3:55 pm
      Libby says:
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      Equity, while I want to agree with you I’m not so sure. With the huge numbers of millenials coming of age, they like to do things on-line. And they don’t care if it’s a big ticket item.

      In addition, you are forgetting that the customer WILL be dealing with an agent. I’m sure they don’t just spit out a number and walk away. They more than likely give several options and follow up by phone or email.

      I’m thinking this is a slick idea for personal lines/BOP business. I’m pretty sure it won’t work for middle-market commerical business, though.

      • May 7, 2014 at 11:03 am
        Comptown says:
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        I couldn’t agree with you more. Once you started buying stocks and mutual funds online it was only a matter of time until insurance went digital.

  • May 2, 2014 at 1:59 pm
    G. Hatfield says:
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    More cheapening of the insurance process for the consumer and the agents. I hope the agents that work with these “major insurance carriers” begin choosing other carriers for their business who are committed to their distibution channel and let Travelers, Safeco and the others work with Walmart and other retail establishments …. I’ll bet Burger King has a bunch of folks they could send them …. a whooper my way and homeowners insurance please:)!!

    • May 3, 2014 at 8:42 am
      agent14 says:
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      I find it very ironic, that carriers such as Travelers and Safeco are spreading themselves out to the general masses through a channel such as Walmart and Overstock dot com, yet these very same carriers come down hard on agencies that are quoting clients with low insurance scores according to their own algorithms(in states that allow insurance scoring). Can you say double standard?

  • May 2, 2014 at 2:02 pm
    farmerjohn says:
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    Well, at least it sounds like the personal lines opportunities we’ll be missing can be replaced by increased opportunities in the E&O world!

  • May 2, 2014 at 2:16 pm
    Crain says:
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    The customer gets a policy from the carrier which is from Overstock through Insuritas. The customer has traded paying an insurance company including an agent commission for paying Insuritas, Overstock, and an Insurance company. The only likely way that this is cheaper is if the coverage is compromised. They also state that they have every Risk Management product needed in stock for their customers. That is great. How will they determine what the needs of the customer are without knowing the property, liability, and other exposures? They are relying upon accurate information from a non-insurance untrained layperson.

  • May 2, 2014 at 2:18 pm
    writer696 says:
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    Overstock’s CEO, Patrick Byrne’s father is Jack Byrne, recently deceased CEO of White Mountain Insurance Group.

    “White Mountains Insurance Group (NYSE: WTM) is a holding company with business interests in property and casualty insurance, and reinsurance. The group owns reinsurer Sirius and a 75% stake in specialty insurance carrier OneBeacon.[1][2] It is based in Hanover, New Hampshire.

    It was founded by Jack Byrne who in 1985 was invited to run the troubled Fireman’s Fund, then a subsidiary of American Express. Fireman’s had incurred $356 million in pretax losses in 1983 and 1984. Byrne greatly improved Fireman’s financial performance and initiated a public offering of some of Fireman’s shares in 1985. The company was sold to Allianz AG in 1991. Byrne, meanwhile, retained the Fireman’s holding company, which he later renamed White Mountains. from Wikipaedia.

    • May 9, 2014 at 1:47 pm
      Jo says:
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      Just because someone’s dad was a successful insurance executive, does not mean his son understands the market. I think Overstock has a great place in the retail market; however, insurance should not be minimized in such a way that we think purchasing from a site like Overstock is good for consumers. I hope the respectable carriers in the industry focus on the value of the insurance channel and not try and dummy down the importance of the
      product.

  • May 2, 2014 at 2:33 pm
    Jimbo says:
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    We are being commoditized by clients, media and to some extent carriers. Homeowners and auto insurance coverage is very much the same from one carrier to another with a few exceptions. Claims handling, price and customer service are almost the only areas where a difference can be felt by the client. Having said that, I think independent agents need to follow a model more like Target or Walmart. Have a physical presence in the local market, but be able to do more with the customer online. After all, some people like to go out and walk around. The internet has not killed retailers. It has changed their business model and our industry needs to change theirs. Independent agents can be a big part of that. Our carriers need to help us out. The client should be able to buy everything online with us via our branded web portal or meet face to face with us.

    • May 7, 2014 at 11:22 am
      Bill Wilson says:
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      No, coverages are not very much the same from one carrier to another. There are more than a few exceptions. The differences are many, varied, and potentially catastrophic. I can give you real life examples of where people have lost everything because they chose price without consideration for coverage.

  • May 2, 2014 at 2:38 pm
    insexpert says:
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    Some Independent Agents have to prove their worth, or lose their business to set ups like these. Too many independents commoditize their products, swapping folks from cheaper carrier to cheaper carrier without taking time to explain the differences, and why you get what you pay for. If the only value you bring is a cheaper rate, you will be easily replaced. The best agents’ clients stay for the agent; not the price. Let’s face it. The vast majority of shoppers are shopping price. That’s a fine start, but a good agent redirects the conversation to “value”, of the product and the agency, based on the stories they tell. Make your clients stick for the reasons they can’t find anywhere else. Let’s send these “knick knacks and insurance” clowns packin’.

    • May 2, 2014 at 3:09 pm
      james says:
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      You said it best!

  • May 2, 2014 at 3:21 pm
    Jerry says:
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    I’m glad you don’t “think” you need an agent but I’m glad you trust GOOGLE with getting all the info on the insured. In your eyes all applicants are honest and nothing in the closet! Good Luck!! I agree with James! Atleast I know where to send them….

  • May 6, 2014 at 4:52 pm
    John Spek says:
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    All we need is an event like the Target and Micheal’s data breach and the people will be very uncomfortable loading data onto WalMart or OverStock.



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