The start-up factory at Trilogy Software is set to churn out another Internet business this week, this time aimed at the multi-billion-dollar insurance industry.
Trilogy will announce the launch of insuranceOrder.com, a Web site that will allow consumers and businesses to compare car insurance offerings and make purchases online. While the site is initially limited to car insurance, the firm plans to quickly expand into other areas, such as home, life and health insurance.
The start-up will be in direct competition with several other established players, most notably InsWeb (www.insweb.com), but Trilogy (www.trilogy.com) is looking to leverage its experience at operating large-scale electronic commerce marketplaces.
"The key advantage that our site will provide is the ability to offer consumers a binding price quote based on their personal information and credit histories," said insuranceOrder President Andy Weitz. "Other [insurance] sites act like referral services: They pass your information along, or provide you with an estimated quote and tell you someone will get back to you. The rate we give buyers at the end of the process is a binding offer."
Trilogy is well known for its policy of encouraging employees to dream up business ideas, and then providing them with the financing and resources to bring them to fruition. Some of the companies already launched by the Austin, Texas-based company, include PcOrder.com, applianceOrder.com and carOrder.com. PcOrder was spun off a little more than a year ago, and now has a market cap of about $362 million, although in December 1999 it was valued at more than $1 billion.
Weitz is another product of Trilogy's entrepreneurial spirit. He joined the company out of college just nine months ago, and a few months into the job, proposed launching a dot com for purchasing insurance. He got the idea after moving to
Now, at only 23 years old, he is the head of his own venture.
"It's been an amazing experience," Weitz said. "But that's what attracted me to Trilogy in the first place."
InsuranceOrder has initially signed on two insurance providers to launch the service: Atlanta Casualty Insurance and Reliance Personal Insurance.
Paul Wilmore, vice president of marketing at Cleveland, Ohio-based Reliance, said the company spent a lot of time working with Trilogy to make sure that adequate checks were being used to qualify applicants. The software automatically runs a credit check against the applicant, and plugs into Reliance's own back-end systems to check the applicant's driving record.
Wilmore acknowledged that consumers have been slow to use the Internet to purchase insurance, but he believes it's only a matter of time before it becomes a big sales channel. "We really believe it's the delivery method of the future," he said.
By Mel Duvall