Google Looks to Partner With Insurance Companies in France

September 13, 2016, 1:20 PM UTC
This picture taken on December 10, 2013 shows Google's logo at the Google cultural hub in Paris. The Lab is a place in the French capital designed to enable artists, museums, foundations and other cultural players to meet the US giant's engineers and gain access to its technology. France's culture minister on December 10 cancelled her attendance at the Paris launch of the Google cultural hub at the last minute, in a snub to the US giant over data protection and other issues. AFP PHOTO/JOEL SAGET (Photo credit should read JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
Joel Saget — AFP/Getty Images

Google is looking to establish partnerships between insurance companies and some of its 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% of insurers see Google (GOOG) 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.

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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.

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