Would you like insurance with that?

Jim Henry is a special correspondent for Automotive News.
Dealerships are always looking for new revenues, so here's a trend worth watching: Some automakers and insurance companies in the United States are taking a fresh look at selling cars and auto insurance at the same time.

That's part of the thinking behind a Nationwide Insurance iPhone application I wrote about recently. In some other countries, such as Mexico, people routinely buy auto insurance when they buy a car. Historically, that's not been the case in the United States.

Most U.S. car buyers already have auto insurance when they walk in the showroom, except for two high-risk groups: first-time buyers and people with too many accidents. I learned all this when GMAC bought a Mexican insurance company several years ago. A lot has changed since then. After years of GEICO ads, Americans with good driving records may be more willing to change insurance companies. Something else that changed? GMAC recently sold its insurance operations.