March 21--Online car-insurance retailer Esurance is launching a pilot program on Friday to market coverage within 150 Illinois Wal-Mart stores.
Esurance, which Allstate Corp. bought for $1 billion in 2011, is setting up unmanned kiosks at which shoppers in the world's biggest retailer may pick up a savings card to buy coverage. Customers may then use a code on the card to get a discount on car insurance. They may either call a toll-free number on the card to speak with an Esurance agent, who will ask them a few questions and give them a quote, or they may go to the Web site mentioned on the card to complete the process.
The customer won't have the ability to buy a policy in Wal-Mart.
"Through this program, Esurance is complementing its existing sales channels and introducing Esurance products to the broadest possible audience," Esurance spokesman Danny Miller said in a statement.
An end date for the pilot hasn't been set.
Northbrook-based Allstate, which was spun off from Sears in the 1990s, bought Esurance as a way to better compete against Geico and Progressive, two insurers with significant online sales.
In 2012, the Esurance brand represented 4 percent of Allstate's premiums. It also began selling renters' insurance last year.
Esurance had more than a million policies outstanding at the end of 2012, up from 786,000 the previous year.
Meanwhile, Allstate-brand policy counts dropped from 17.2 million in 2011 to 16.9 million in 2012.
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