LONDON (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc is sounding out a few of Europe’s prime insurance coverage companies to see if they’d contribute merchandise to a UK value comparability web site in what could be a serious foray by the U.S. on-line retail large into the area’s monetary companies.
FILE PHOTO: The emblem of Amazon is seen on the company logistics centre in Boves, France, August eight, 2018. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photo
Three business executives informed Reuters that they had held talks with Amazon concerning the attainable launch of a web site. One stated the talks have been a part of a number of discussions Amazon is having with insurers. A second stated there have been no imminent launch plans.
While it was not instantly clear what sort of insurance coverage could be bought on any Amazon web site, home and motor insurance policies are in style sellers on current UK value comparability websites.
“As Amazon becomes a larger part of the home, whether it’s products delivered to the home, security monitoring, home services like Wi-Fi installation, you can make the case that insurance is the next logical step for this company,” stated Morningstar analyst R.J. Hottovy.
The business sources declined to be named because the talks are confidential. Amazon declined to remark.
An Amazon value comparability web site for insurance coverage merchandise could be a possible problem to current UK websites given the U.S. company’s cutting-edge know-how, attain and dependable buyer base.
Two of essentially the most excessive profile are comparethemarket.com which reveals merchandise from insurers together with AXA, Hastings and eSure; and GoCompare, which lists insurance coverage from companies comparable to Santander and LV= [LV.UL].
In response to the prospect of Amazon launching a rival service, shares in Moneysupermarket, GoCompare and Admiral, which runs the confused.com web site, have been down between 1.6 % and four.6 % on Thursday.
A UK insurance coverage web site would additionally construct on Amazon’s current merchandise in Europe providing extensions to producers’ warranties, a service generally known as Amazon Protect.
While Amazon’s loyal buyer base and attain would most likely show engaging to some insurers completely happy to cede a few of their premiums to Amazon to develop gross sales, the potential for premiums to be pressured decrease via competitors might deter others.
One of the business sources stated the comparability web site mannequin fitted Amazon’s technique of providing a spread of merchandise, versus partnering with one agency.
A value comparability web site particularly is also used to assist drive site visitors to its different marketplaces, Hottovy stated.
It was not instantly clear what monetary preparations Amazon would strike with insurers if it have been to go forward.
Tech-rival Google launched a monetary companies comparability web site within the United Kingdom and the United States in 2016 however shut it down after solely a yr as a result of low site visitors.
In the United States, Amazon has a three way partnership with insurer Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan geared toward slashing U.S. healthcare prices. It additionally provides a small business mortgage programme.
In Europe, Amazon has had a partnership with The Warranty Group since 2016 to supply the guarantee extensions. It additionally provides co-branded bank cards within the United Kingdom and Germany though it doesn’t lend cash of its personal.
In an indication of potential growth plans, Amazon started to put job adverts final yr for workers for a brand new insurance coverage business in Europe, with out giving particulars.
While Chinese tech giants Alibaba and Tencent have massive finance arms, main Western tech companies have taken a extra cautious strategy to closely regulated monetary companies, which regularly have hefty capital necessities.
A comparability web site, nonetheless, would let Amazon give its clients entry to insurance coverage from a wide range of suppliers whereas avoiding that stage of regulatory burden, business sources stated.
The use of comparability web sites to purchase motor and home insurance coverage is extra prevalent within the United Kingdom than Europe or the United States.
Some insurers rely closely on comparability web sites for gross sales. UK insurer Hastings, for instance, informed Reuters it sells 90 % of its motor insurance policies via such websites.
Rival automobile insurer Admiral additionally depends on web sites for gross sales and could be open to becoming a member of any Amazon web site, its chief monetary officer, Geraint Jones, stated.
“If it establishes a comparison site then I suspect Admiral will be interested in being a member, potentially. Price comparison is the main source of distribution of our products and we’ll await with interest what they do,” Jones informed Reuters.
Additional reporting by Sinead Cruise in London, Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru, Jeffrey Dastin and Paresh Dave in San Francisco; modifying by David Clarke