China U.S. trade yuan dollarChubb Ltd. is linking up with one of China’s largest and most recognized retailers in a deal that gives it access to and online customer base of as many as 230 million people.

Financial details of the agreement between Chubb and Suning aren’t being disclosed. But the companies will partner to develop and market both personal and commercial general insurance through Suning’s various online platforms.

Chubb Chairman and CEO Evan Greenberg said in prepared remarks that the deal gives the insurer “a significant long-term growth opportunity.”

Initial products will focus on accident and health, travel, homeowners, personal device and package insurance policies for small-to-medium-sized companies.

Chub highlights the market potential with these statistics: Suning has 230 million registered e-commerce customers and 130 million members of Suning Yifubao, the retailer’s online payment processing platform.

Suning’s retail network is also quite large, encompassing nearly 1,700 retail stores in mainland China and in Hong Kong. Chubb also points out that the Suning e-commerce platform is the third largest in China, and that the retailer in 2014 became the first in China to secure a nationwide insurance agency license from Chinese regulators.

Chubb already is a licensed property/casualty insurance company in China, and offers commercial property/casualty and group personal accident coverage to local Chinese businesses and multinational companies that have exposure in China.

While the online/e-commerce component may be new, the idea of insurers pairing with retailers is not without precedent.

U.S. retailer Sears, Roebuck & Co. inked a deal with The Hartford Financial Services Group back in 2000 to market home and auto insurance to Sears’ 60 million customers. The Hartford underwrote the policies but they were marketed under the Sears name, with Sears earning a commission on all sold policies.

A similar deal was in place between Sears and Allstate, which Sears owned until it was spun off in 1995.

Source: Chubb