Companies that are actively marketing to the Internet audience understand that a static Web site is unacceptable to Web-savvy consumers. Indeed, many companies rely on adding new functions and features as a means of attracting new customers and retaining their most profitable ones.Recognizing that the bar is being raised by its financial services competitors, Boston-based Fidelity Investments and its Insurance.com affiliate recently launched a co-branded portion of the Fidelity Web site for consumers who are seeking information on insurance policies and quotes.

The Insurance Center Fidelity "brings a lot of information to the Fidelity customer base, which they didn't have before," says Lou Geremia, president of Insurance.com. "It also demonstrates how Insurance.com's content and quoting services can complement the online offerings of large financial service companies like Fidelity."

Policy quotes

Visitors to www.fidelity.com can access the Insurance Center as one of the product and service offerings on the Fidelity site. At the Insurance Center, they can receive quotes on auto, home and health insurance from dozens of carriers through Insurance.com. Life insurance and annuities are provided only by Fidelity.

Insurance.com launched its Web site www.insurance.com in March, which enables customers to shop for insurance, compare quotes, and find information on life events, such as marriage or purchasing a new home. Major insurance carriers pay a commission to Insurance.com, which is a licensed agent, for each policy that is sold online.

Through this arrangement, Insurance.com is hoping to tap into some of the 4.5 million online customers at Fidelity. By the end of 2001, the company is aiming for about 100,000 customers.

To achieve that goal, Insurance.com is planning to launch a marketing campaign in January to build support for the Insurance Center. Fidelity customers will receive flyers with their statements.

Jennifer Blackmore, an analyst with International Data Corp., a Framingham, Mass.-based technology research firm, believes the arrangement between Fidelity and Insurance.com will help build credibility in the insurance marketplace. "Fidelity is not just plastering their name over the Internet," she says. "They are trying to capture the relationship. It is a critical role that somebody has to take over."

Targeting Boomers

Fidelity and Insurance.com should not have any trouble building a base of customers looking to assemble their insurance portfolio, Blackmore says. Baby Boomers and people reaching retirement age will be the core audience. "It will be attracting serious shoppers," she says. "The look and feel will be attractive to traditional people."

Insurance Center customers will have an income range of around $75,000 and have the computer knowledge to do research on their insurance options, Geremia says. "It is going to follow a profile."

Geremia anticipates that auto insurance will be a popular choice for visitors to the Insurance Center Fidelity. They can choose their state, fill out a questionnaire on the amount of coverage they want, select the type of policy and learn how to file claims.

After receiving a quote, customers can then decide whether to select the policy. For auto insurance, customers can expect to receive a policy between 24 and 48 hours after their online visit, Geremia says.

Geremia believes online access to quoting services will grow in popularity. "The Insurance Center Fidelity is a big milestone for Insurance.com," he says. "This is our first step in leveraging our unique access to Fidelity's customer base of financially savvy individuals."

Insurance.com also offers its products through its partnership with NetBank, an Internet-only bank.

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