October 2, 2018 / 4:15 PM / 16 days ago

Credit Karma expands into insurance with auto policy service

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Financial technology startup Credit Karma said on Tuesday it is expanding into insurance through a new service that makes it easier for users to find cheaper auto insurance policies.

Cars travel north towards Los Angeles on interstate highway 5 in San Diego, California February 10, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake

The tool generates suggestions by analyzing government information on drivers and vehicles together with data from credit bureaus and public insurance rate filings, bypassing the need for users to manually input information into long forms, the company said.

“We estimate that Americans are overspending on auto insurance by nearly $21 billion a year and believe that bringing simplicity and transparency to our members will help them save,” Kenneth Lin, Credit Karma’s founder and chief executive, said in a statement.

The service is available in California and Texas, but the company plans to roll it out in other states across the country.

A growing number of so-called “insurtech” startups are hoping to modernize the insurance sector by taking advantage of digital technologies to make better customized underwriting decisions and offer cheaper products.

Insurtech companies raised $1.3 billion from investors in the first six months of 2018, up 2 percent from the same period a year earlier, according to a September report from consulting firm Willis Towers Watson.

Credit Karma, which was founded in 2007, is best known for providing free credit scores and helping users find products such as personal loans and credit cards. It gets paid from the product providers by helping generate leads.

With more than 80 million users, the company is one of the most well-funded fintech startups globally. It has been expanding beyond its flagship free credit score tool, offering services such as free tax filing.

Credit Karma already had been collecting information from state motor vehicle departments for an existing auto service which made recommendations on auto loans and helped track the estimated value of cars. More than 8 million users have connected their vehicle information through the service since it launched a year ago, the company said.

“Because auto insurance is a major expense of owning a car, building an insurance feature was a natural extension to help our members make financial progress,” Rory Joyce, director of product management at Credit Karma, said in a statement.

The new tool also lets users visualize how changes in credit score and moving violations can improve insurance rates.

Reporting by Anna Irrera; Editing by Paul Simao

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