NEW YORK — Walmart is bringing one-stop shopping to another area: auto insurance.
The world's largest retailer has teamed up with AutoInsurance.com to let shoppers quickly find and buy insurance policies online in real time to cut down costs.
The service is available immediately in eight states — Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas — but will be available nationwide in a few months.
Shoppers can log on to AutoInsurance.com or access the site through Walmart's website at www.Walmart.com/autoinsurance.
AutoInsurance.com, a division of Tranzutary Insurance Solutions of Fort Lee, N.J., a licensed property and casualty insurance agency, was created after Wal-Mart realized there was an opportunity for a quicker service for shoppers. Walmart says car insurance is among the biggest monthly expenses for customers, and for some, it can outpace health care costs.
"Our customers too often have to settle for auto insurance policies that aren't the best fit and cost more than they want to spend," said Daniel Eckert, senior vice president of services for Walmart U.S.
The strategy marks Walmart's latest flirtation with insurance marketing and also highlights how the retailer is trying to use its size to expand beyond food and other staples into a one-stop shopping destination as it seeks to bring in more shoppers to its site and its stores.
Last month, Walmart introduced a new money-transfer service that it says will cut fees for its low-income customers by up to 50 percent compared with similar services elsewhere. That service is being rolled out in partnership with Ria Money Transfer.
The auto insurance price comparison service works this way: Customers log on to the site and provide their name, address, date of birth and contact information. They can also have the site retrieve their current auto insurance policy, allowing AutoInsurance.com to automatically fill in the necessary coverage information for an apples-to-apples comparison. The free service offers customers multiple quotes from some of the leading national insurance carriers like Esurance, Safeco and Progressive within minutes.
Customers can choose to either purchase the policy online immediately, speak with a licensed agent toll-free at 1-800-700-7500 or save the information and purchase later.