O.co Taps Home and Auto Insurance to Grow Discount Shopping

Overstock.com has been slowly trimming its name down to a more snappy O.co, while simultaneously increasing the number of businesses in which it operates.

Earlier this year, it started selling discounted hotel rooms, and today it is announcing that it will offer deals on auto and home insurance.

The online retailer is now focused on four main categories: Shopping — which includes everything from books to clothing and home and garden — discounted cars, vacations and now insurance.

In March, O.co entered travel by hiring its own dedicated sales team. This time it’s partnering with Answer Financial, which is one of the largest auto and home insurance agencies in the U.S., in order to offer insurance.

O.co said consumers will be able to compare quotes from as many as 20 insurance providers and will be able to save an average of $468 a year on auto policies.

While other insurance sites offer to compare rates, O.co’s CEO Patrick Byrne said you can’t trust the companies to show rates lower than their own.

“This is a niche that I don’t think has been done by any large shopping site,” he said.

In January, it introduced the domain name O.co, which initially served as a shortcut to its regular Web site. During an introductory period, customers who shopped at O.co received free shipping.

Byrne said the reason behind the name is to have a more recognizable brand across the 90 countries in which it operates. The plan was for the domain name to change permanently internationally, and only to experiment with the shortcut domestically.

Now, it intends to accelerate the shift from Overstock.com to O.co in the U.S. as well.

“We saw more of a pick-up than we had anticipated. Today, a significant portion of our business is finding us from O.co,” he said.

Byrne expects to launch one more category in the next couple of months.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work