Magazine article American Banker

Answer Financial's Quiet Site Starts to Get Attention on Web

Magazine article American Banker

Answer Financial's Quiet Site Starts to Get Attention on Web

Article excerpt

Answer Financial Inc., which builds private-label Web insurance services for banks and affinity group partners, has done no marketing for the online retail agency it quietly rolled out in September.

The site is being noticed anyway.

Gomez.com, a Web site rating service in Waltham, Mass., ranked it second among consumer insurance sites in a scorecard released Tuesday.

The top-ranked site was InsWeb, a supermarket site for insurance products that has been in existence since 1995. InsWeb and a third site, Insurance.com, also form partnerships with other companies but either have their brands featured prominently or use links to their own existing sites.

Greg Davies, an analyst for Gomez, said Answer Financial's retail offering "does not necessarily mark a complete shift in the company's business strategy," because other private-label online agencies -- like Pivot.com, which is owned by First Union Corp. -- also offer retail services.

These agencies are "trying to pursue customers through multiple distribution channels," he said. "It's just an extension of their brand into the direct consumer space."

Answer Financial said its retail efforts will not affect its private-label clients.

The retail site, at answerfinancial.com, allows customers to get quotes for auto, home, life, health, and other products without going through one of the partner sites. However, Steven Kroll, senior vice president of the Los Angeles company, said it does not offer some products -- like pre-paid legal insurance and some financial planning tools -- available on sites it has built for companies like Juniper Bank, E-Trade Bank, and Digital Insights Inc., a provider of sites for community banks.

Nor does the retail site offer some of the special discounts Answer Financial negotiates with insurance carriers on some of the private-label sites. But the site does sell a range of products from dozens of carriers also included on the partner sites, he said. …

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