A new top level domain (TLD) has become more widely available, and insurers and brokers will have to move quickly to snap up the best options.
Everyone in the insurance industry can now apply for a ‘.insurance’ TLD. In a web address, ‘.insurance’ would replace a generic ending of either ‘.com’ or ‘.co.uk’.
Stuart Fuller is the head of global commercial operations at NetNames, an online brand management company which protects the online identities of businesses and processes applications for TLDs. He said the new address presents plenty of opportunities for businesses looking to stand out online.
For the previous few months the ‘.insurance’ TLD was only open to businesses who held a trademark lodged in The Trademark Clearinghouse, and what they could buy was limited to just their trademark. For example, if an insurance business held the trademark ‘Smith’s’, they could apply to purchases the web address ‘smiths.insurance’. This ‘sunrise period’ just finished, and while businesses still have to prove they have a right to use ‘.insurance’, they are no longer restricted to their trademarks.
Fuller said this sunrise period was to give brands the opportunity to secure their own names if they wanted them, but now businesses have far more options.
“Anybody could apply for any term, but you still have to go through the verification process,” he said.
“It might be that you quite like the idea of owning the domain name ‘travel.insurance’, as I’d imagine a lot of insurance companies would. If nobody has a trademark on the word travel, which is very difficult to have a trademark on, then essentially it’s a first-come first-served on putting an application in and going through the verification process.”
The verification processes is in place to protect the integrity of the ‘.insurance’ TLD.
“While it’s a general availability, you still have to prove you’re an insurance company and you’ve got the right certification and documentation in place,” Fuller said. This ensures that anyone who does use a ‘.insurance’ TLD is a real business visitors can trust.
The same organisation managing ‘.insurance’, fTLD Registry Services, also launched ‘.bank’ last year. Fuller said ‘.bank’ is a relatively good comparison point for how much demand there will be for ‘.insurance’. There are approximately 2,300 ‘.bank’ addresses currently registered. While many are not currently being used, Fuller said brands tend to register them to protect themselves.
“You could be a tiny little one-man insurance broker, but you’ve got the right accreditation and your name is Lloyd, you could apply for ‘lloyds.insurance’ if Lloyds hasn’t already done so,” he said.
The process isn’t cheap though. Fuller estimated the cost of maintaining a ‘.insurance’ domain as being approximately £700 per year.
While in many cases companies buy TLDs to protect against imposters, some big insurers are already using them in interesting ways. Fuller said LV= is one insurer NetNames has worked with, who use the addresses lv.social for their social media channel and lv.broker for their broker hub.
While a businesses is never going to ditch their ‘.com’ address entirely, ‘.insurance’ does provide a chance for a recognisable name to accompany a regular address.
Source: Insurance Business 2016