Google France boss says looking for insurance partners

(Story corrects September 13th instance to show Nest is owned by Alphabet)

Nick Leeder, CEO of Google France, attends the MEDEF union summer forum on the campus of the HEC School of Management in Jouy-en-Josas, near Paris, France, August 26, 2015. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

MONACO (Reuters) - Google is looking to establish partnerships between insurance companies and some of its parent company Alphabet’s businesses including Nest, which makes smart thermostats and smoke detectors, the managing director of its French division said.

But the U.S. firm was not focusing on entering the insurance market directly, Nick Leeder added.

“With some of the things we have done around Nest, we have been working with insurers in France like AXA and Allianz to develop bundles of products which blend technology and hardware with insurance,” Leeder said during a panel discussion at the reinsurance industry’s annual meeting in Monte Carlo on Tuesday.

“We’re clearer about the role that we can play and what we can add, and we are looking for partners.”

More than 40 percent of insurers see Google as a potential rival and threat because of its strong brand and ability to manage customer data, a report from consultants Capgemini earlier this year found.

But that was not where Google was directing its efforts.

“We are not a company that uses the word never much, so it’s difficult to rule things in or out. I think there are things that we are good at and things we are not good at,” the Google France boss said.

Areas Google had been focusing more on included health care, and it shut down its price comparison site for motor insurance, Google Compare, earlier this year.

“We found it didn’t work as well as we’d like,” Leeder said.

Reporting by Carolyn Cohn; editing by John Stonestreet