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Safeco Considers Selling Insurance Directly on the Internet

Safeco Corp. may sell private passenger automobile insurance directly to consumers online. Michael LaRocco, president of product, underwriting and claims for Safeco, confirmed to A.M....
April 20, 2006

Safeco Corp. may sell private passenger automobile insurance directly to consumers online. Michael LaRocco, president of product, underwriting and claims for Safeco, confirmed to A.M. Best that company is "investigating" direct Internet sales "to see if it is an area" Safeco wants to get into. And he said "it's becoming clearer and clearer it's the direction to go." LaRocco said he expects Safeco to make a decision on going direct in the next four to eight weeks.

LaRocco hastened to add that this does not mean the company is giving up on the agent system. Safeco, LaRocco said, is "dedicated to the independent agent system" and believes it is "the best" way to sell its products and for consumers to buy insurance. "Having independent advice is still a very powerful marketing tool," he said. "Our partnership with agents isn't changing. This is just a supplemental channel." But looking to the future, LaRocco said Safeco cannot ignore the trend of direct Internet insurance buyers.

LaRocco admitted also admitted that some Safeco independent agents were "flat-out angry" and frustrated that the company was even considering direct Internet sales.

Meanwhile, Safeco Corp. said it plans to lease space in downtown Seattle instead of building a new corporate headquarters. The company still plans on selling its current headquarters, a complex in Seattle's University District. And the sale of Safeco's Redmond campus also will continue. But the company won't consolidate its Puget Sound operations in the University District in a new building. The company said it would begin evaluating available office space in Seattle.

Safeco Considers Selling Insurance Directly on Internet (BestWeek 4/17/06)

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