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Wal-Mart revs up auto insurance

By Jay MacDonald · Bankrate.com
Friday, May 9, 2014
Posted: 6 am ET

After kicking the tires for a couple of years, Wal-Mart has settled on a vehicle to offer its customers online comparison shopping for auto insurance.

But rather than drive, America's largest retailer plans to ride shotgun. Instead of offering insurance directly, it will point customers to an insurance partner site through a link on Walmart.com as well as through promotions in the company's Wal-Mart stores.

Wal-Mart's program offers quotes on policies from multiple auto insurers including Travelers, Safeco, Progressive, 21st Century and Allstate's Esurance.

Wal-Mart-referred auto insurance is available in only eight states so far:

  • ArkansasWalmart © Ken Wolter/Shutterstock.com
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tennessee
  • Texas

But the retail giant plans to add more carriers and expand its auto initiative nationwide.

Insurance from Overstock, too

In a related development, online discount retailer Overstock.com has thrown its rhinestone driving glove into the insurance arena, unveiling an insurance tab on its website that walks customers through the steps toward their best deal on auto, homeowners and even small business insurance.

Like Wal-Mart, Overstock won't actually be insuring anyone but is working with a partner. Unlike Wal-Mart, Overstock's offerings will be through private label insurance agencies rather than well-known brands.

Wal-Mart's insurance flirtations

Before settling on its new outsourcing arrangement, Wal-Mart test-drove several auto insurance models, including a single-carrier pilot in Georgia and South Carolina; a multiple-carrier experiment in Pennsylvania; and even an Esurance discount card in Illinois. Some of them even worked -- in Pennsylvania, for example, customers reportedly saved an average of $1,168 per year on auto insurance.

The retail giant decided to partner with an online insurance agency, which keeps all customer information from the carriers until a policy is actually purchased and makes customer service reps available to help consumers with their shopping questions.

It's not Wal-Mart's first foray into insurance, of course. The company has long marketed third-party, limited-benefit health insurance plans to members of it Sam's Club big-box chain; it established its own small business health insurance exchange; and the company even sold MetLife life insurance products off the shelf, right next to the cereal.

A ready market

While you may be as disappointed as I was to learn that there won't actually be a rosy-cheeked insurance agent spinning on the bagging carousel at your local Wal-Mart, there's no denying that consumer interest in one-stop insurance shopping is on the rise.

A February survey by Accenture found that two-thirds of us would consider buying our insurance from someone other than an insurance company, and nearly a quarter of those would do so online at sites such as Amazon, Google -- and presumably, Wal-Mart and Overstock.com.

Here's more on Wal-Mart's bumpy ride into auto insurance.

Follow me on Twitter: @omnisaurus.

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41 Comments
mike
October 05, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Well as long as the companies can offer you a reasonable. This will be great.. But just so some of you out there are aware of this fact that I just learned about yesterday.. Has to do with Homeowners insurance.. If you have friends who want to store things at you home/property.. You had better check with your insurance carrier.. I was going to store my camper at a friends. He said ok.. Then decided to call his Insurance company.. If it was his there was no problem. But he could not store it for anyone else because he was not ZONED commercial.. Which means he would have to charge you/me. This Insurance company was "LIBERTY MUTUAL. So if you have them and someone close to you wants to store something BIG on your property, anything past a month will get you DROPPED from them.. thanks for you time..

Brenda
July 20, 2014 at 8:55 pm

I worked at Walmart for six years. We were also told that heat and air conditioning was controlled by Arkansas. Walmart has always cut hours so the company can make the money. You never knew if you could pay your bills from month to month due to you don't know if you will get enough hours week to week. The employees are hard working and take a lot of blows from management up high to make their dollar not caring of the employee can support the family.
It is a good place to work due to the people and store managers but Walmart Corp needs to care more about steady hours and better pay.

mary
July 20, 2014 at 8:36 pm

I have several family members and friends that work at Wal-mart ...they have not had any of the problems Jan talks about. They are treated well ..paid as well as any retail store , and is giving time off for illness or emergency. Sounds like sour grapes and trying to keep the rumors flying ..shame on you

joe
July 02, 2014 at 6:44 pm

i will tell you like a tell everyone else who complains about their job. go get a job that you would enjoy. noone forces you to work at walmart.no where else to work in the area,move, plenty of jobs in texas and north and south dakota. JACK

truth in statement
July 02, 2014 at 4:23 pm

Jan your totally right i do not work at what we here call wally world but it is true they are letting go secior high level long term employees getting paid 12 to 15 per hour that have been on store for 10 to 14 years then offering re hire at lower wages that is simple ethics violation also i recently heard of an on job injury couldent be denied caught on multiple cameras and yet the store MGR went to the security team and stated would you sign that that person tripped on thier own feet and did not fall from a wet rug even when a second person that went to help fell as well ethics and morality have left the work place and people wonder how we will make it when the hyperinflation hits ater the fall of the dollar think people dont speculate we are all in the same sinking ship , but lets take time and comment on grammer errors during emotionally written statement by perople that work there, good statement jan the truth hurts and more want to deny it than admit its true .

Lee
July 02, 2014 at 1:09 pm

Jan I think you should leave and go to work at Target or Sears.
Maybe start your own business an deal with employees.

Joe Johnson
July 02, 2014 at 8:36 am

At this time be thankful to be employees at all
Based on your writing ability , you probably dropped out of High School
Wake up!

Jan
July 02, 2014 at 7:35 am

I have been employed at Walmart, and I have to say that the employees are told that the heat and the air conditioning is controlled by Arkansas. They are also told that the schedule is prepared by Arkansas, this is not true. upper management does not want to deal with the employees, they are not sympathetic to the needs of there employees, and could care less if there is a emergency or an Illness. they have you come in at 4:30 pm and stay till 10:30 pm then come in the next day at 5:30 am and most of us do not live close. they would be able to keep employees if they acted like they care about us. you have people that like to work nights and they have them come in early morning and you have people who like to work early mornings and they have them work at night. I recently found out that they are firing the full timers people that have been there for years, and telling them they can re apply in 30 days this way they only have to pay them a big $8.25 an hour and most of them do not get 40 hours how can anyone live on that raise a family, I think Walmart should be ashamed of the way people are treated, I would like to see the main office upper management work here and pay there bills, feed there family's for 3 month on the pay they pay us.

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