July 19, 2011, 3:09 PM

Overstock.com lets consumers stock up on insurance quotes

A microsite shows consumers multiple quotes from home and auto carriers.

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Mass merchandise web sites seem to be all about diversification. In this case the mass merchant is Overstock.com Inc. and its latest move to diversify is a new tab that lets consumers shop online for auto and home insurance.

Overstock.com, No. 27 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide and more and more rebranding itself as O.co, has added a new Insurance tab to the top navigation bar on Overstock.com’s home page. Clicking on Insurance takes a visitor to a microsite where she can type in her demographic and financial information and receive quotes from about 20 carriers.

The new insurance microsite, which Overstock launched in conjunction with Answer Financial, an insurance brokerage firm and a subsidiary of White Mountains Insurance Group Ltd. based in Hanover, NH, contains a tab for home insurance and another tab for auto insurance, and also lets consumers submit information for a combined quote with a bigger break on insurance premiums, says Overstock.

The insurance microsite lets consumers complete much of the application online or speak directly with an Answer Financial service rep.

Overstock isn’t commenting on its financial relationship with Answer Financial, including if it will receive any transaction processing or web operating fees in addition to being paid a certain percentage of each policy sold.

Overstock also isn’t ruling out adding more carriers or brokers to its insurance microsite or adding other financial services. “We may,” says an Overstock spokesman.

Overstock clearly wants to diversify into other areas beyond discounted merchandise, says CEO Patrick Byrne. “Expanding our services to a new industry, and especially to insurance, is a natural extension of O.co,” says Byrne.

The push into financial services is the second program launched by Overstock in recent months. In April Overstock became the latest e-commerce operator to offer online travel deals.

The packages, which include hotel and resort stays but not flights, generally will remain on sale for two weeks, typically longer than travel deals offered on daily-deal and flash sale sites.

At the same time, the web-only retailer is shutting down unsuccessful ventures, such as its auction and private-sale sites.

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