domain-globeThe Internet domain extension reserved for the global insurance industry—.insurance—became available last night.

The new extension means an independent agency at could potentially also be found at, or could be located at

Registration of the .insurance suffix—known as a gTLD (generic Top Level Domain)—is being managed by fTLD Registry Services, an organization owned and operated by banks, insurance companies and financial services trade associations. The same organization launched .bank for the banking industry last year.

The new gTLD would supplement, not replace, existing .com, .org, .gov and other suffixes used by most organizations.

Insurance companies, licensed agents/agencies, brokers/brokerages or other equivalents, trade associations, select service providers and government regulators are eligible to register domains with .insurance.

“Similar to the launch of .bank, we’re excited to provide eligible and verified members of the financial services community with new options to boost their online presence and provide a more secure experience for their customers,” said Craig Schwartz, managing director of fTLD, in an announcement.

He said the global insurance community could have “millions of companies, agents and brokers participating.”

According to fTLD, the .bank Internet extension, launched in May 2015, currently has more than 5,900 registrants globally. In its initial year, 45 percent (or 2,575) of banks in the U.S. have registered a total of 5,212 domain names.

Domains are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, according to Schwartz.

Stuart Fuller of NetNames, an online brand protection firm, says the new domain could provide better security, credibility and searchability.

“Any organization, big or small, can apply, but they will need to pass some quite stringent verification processes which ensure that the domain names can only be used by verified members of the insurance community,” Fuller said.

In addition to the higher security and credibility because it is only open to accredited members of the insurance industry, the new gTLD also promises better searchability, since it already contains a high-value keyword, according to Fuller.

Insurance technology expert Matthew Josefowicz, president and CEO of research firm Novarica, thinks registering probably makes sense for insurance firms—if only as a defensive move.

“While it’s unlikely consumers will trade a well-known three-letter domain for a new nine-letter one, insurers should probably grab their domains to avoid having to deal with squatters,” Josefowicz told Insurance Journal.

There are about 15 fTLD-approved sites where insurance organizations can go to register in addition to fTLD—including encirca, 101 Domains, MarkMonitor and SafeBrands.

Domain registration fees vary from registrar to registrar and can depend on additional services registrants may purchase.

While company and agency names are generally available, certain common words, phrases and lines of insurance will initially not be available for registration by any third party. The complete list of terms not eligible includes adjuster, agent, auto, auto liability, car, property, casualty, malpractice, reinsurance, surplus lines and workers compensation.

The group behind fTLD had to be approved by the domain-approval organization, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to operate the .insurance generic top-level domain

In 2012, ICANN, under a .yournamehere program, began allowing organizations to buy up top-level domains containing their own name to protect their brands.

fTLD has an advisory council of insurance industry organizations that includes the American Council of Life Insurers, American Insurance Association, European Banking Federation (Belgium), HSBC Holdings (United Kingdom), Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd. (China), Insurance Bureau of Canada (Canada), Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (United States), Suncorp Group (Australia) and U.S. Bancorp.

Topics USA Agencies Market