An Allstate insurance office is seen in South Russell, Ohio, in 2009. The Northbrook-based insurance company is dropping its Esurance brand. (Amy Sancetta / AP / ASSOCIATED PRESS)
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Allstate announced Thursday that it will remove its Esurance brand next year as part of a “transformational growth plan” to streamline the business and focus on the company’s brand.
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The company will continue to sell home, rental, auto and life insurance online, but under the Allstate name.
The company is also in the process of merging Encompass Insurance, a subsidiary that sells personal property and casualty insurance, and Answer Financial, a website that allows customers to compare quotes, under the Allstate brand.
“Our competitors have increased their advertising. We cannot let our historic brand fade,” Allstate CEO Tom Wilson said. “We put everything together.
Wilson said the company will increase its Allstate marketing when it exits Esurance. Allstate is also making changes to its systems.
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“We’ve redesigned the products to make it simpler for customers. We’re going to clean it up and make it simpler,” Wilson said.
Allstate outsources some basic customer inquiries — for example, billing inquiries and change-of-address requests — to call centers. Wilson said the change frees up agents to act as financial advisors for their clients.
In 2011, Northbrook-based Allstate bought Esurance for $1 billion to compete with online insurers like Geico and Progressive, but the Esurance brand hasn’t dazzled. In 2017, Esurance lost $56 million and reported an underwriting loss of $25 million last year.
J. D. According to the Power report, Progressive and Geico accounted for 54 percent of the growth in car payments in 2018.
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Allstate is the nation’s fourth-largest auto insurance provider with a 9 percent market share, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Bloomington-based State Farm is the largest auto insurer with a 17 percent market share.
After a two-year period without rate increases, Allstate said in August it would raise auto insurance premiums in Illinois by 1.7 percent, according to a filing with the state Department of Insurance. State Farm, meanwhile, has lowered rates, announcing earlier this year that it would drop rates by 2% in Illinois.
The plan to ditch the Esurance brand comes as Allstate changes the fees it pays its agents.
Starting January 1, the company will tie part of the agents’ compensation to how many new customers they bring and how many additional services they add to existing insurance contracts.
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When asked if there is still a need for agents, Wilson said, “Absolutely. This (Thursday’s announcement) reinforces our commitment to our Allstate agents. We found that more than half of our customers they want an agent.”
Ted Paris, executive director of the National Association of Professional Allstate Agents, said the company’s announcement Thursday is seen as a good sign among agents, who have had to compete with Esurance and other Allstate brands.
“Most agents take that as a positive boost,” Paris said. “(Esurance) has been a mixed bag for the company, and now they’re saying we’re going to put that money into a name brand.”
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