NEW YORK — Wal-Mart 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. It will be available nationwide in the next few months.
Shoppers can log on to AutoInsurance.com or access the site through Wal-Mart’s website at www.walmart.com/autoinsurance.
AutoInsurance.com, a division of Fort Lee, N.J.-based Tranzutary Insurance Solutions, a licensed property and casualty insurance agency, was created after Wal-Mart realized there was an opportunity for a quicker service where shoppers could buy and save on car insurance that provides the final price with no bait-and-switch tactics. Wal-Mart says car insurance is among the biggest monthly expenses for customers and, for some, it can outpace health-care costs.
In a media briefing Tuesday, Daniel Eckert, senior vice president of services for Wal-Mart U.S., said the Bentonville, Ark.-based discounter will be AutoInsurance.com’s exclusive retail partner and receive promotion payments in its role as marketer. AutoInsurance will earn a commission when a policy is sold.
The strategy marks Wal-Mart’s latest flirtation with insurance marketing. The move also highlights how the retailer is trying to use its size to expand beyond food and other staples into a one-stop-shopping destination. Wal-Mart plans to promote the insurance-shopping service in its stores.
Last month, Wal-Mart 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, a subsidiary of Euronet Worldwide.
Wal-Mart has had a relationship with Joshua Kazam, founder of AutoInsurance.com and the founder and chairman of Tranzutary, dating back several years. In 2009, Kazam and his team partnered with Wal-Mart to bring PetArmor, a generic version of a popular flea and tick preventative treatment, to Wal-Mart customers. Kazam founded Velcera, which created the PetArmor brand.
In 2012, Wal-Mart tested a program with Tranzutary to sell prepaid MetLife insurance policies in 217 stores in Georgia and South Carolina. Last April, it launched a test program in Pennsylvania in which customers who purchased policies from AutoInsurance.com reported annual average savings on their insurance of $1,168. At the same time, Tranzutary displayed kiosks in Illinois where shoppers could pick up a saving card that offered a discount on a new auto insurance policy sold through Esurance.