Google's new car insurance site lets you compare rates

It's currently only available to California residents, but coverage is expanding, Google says.

Google has launched a new auto insurance site in the U.S. designed to simplify for consumers the process of shopping for policies.

Google Compare Auto Insurance, launched Thursday, is a free site that prompts users to enter the typical sorts of questions for getting an auto quote, like information about the car, the person’s driving history and location. Do that, and then Google spits back a bunch of quotes and coverage details from different providers. From there, Google can link users with the provider of their choice by phone or website, to complete a purchase.

People can also access the service through a regular Google search for “car insurance.”

At the moment it’s only available to California residents.

Google had been rumored to be planning the service for some time, though apparently the site’s launch had been delayed. A report earlier this year by an analyst at the research firm Forrester helped shed light on some of Google’s plans. Google already runs an insurance comparison website in the U.K. called Google Compare.

Google’s U.S. site is easy enough to use; it takes only a few minutes to enter the information. It’s true usefulness, however, might depend on the number of providers Google is able to enlist, and the number of states in which it’s made available. There are also competing insurance comparison sites like Esurance and NetQuote.com.

Although the site can only be used by California residents, Google plans to make it available to people in other states this year. The report by Forrester pointed to an entity Google Compare Auto Insurance Services Inc., licensed to do business in more than half the states in the U.S.

Google currently has more than a dozen insurance partners, a list the company says it will “grow.” Companies participating in the service include MetLife, Titan Insurance and 21st Century Insurance. Google says it is compensated by the insurance companies for the service.

Rates from Geico and Progressive currently are not provided.

Google built the new service in-house and with partners such as CoverHound, another insurance comparison site, and Compare.com.

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