Seattle-based property and casualty insurer Safeco is considering direct marketing its automobile insurance business over the Internet to reach additional consumers that don’t like to deal with a middle-man and purchase insurance through agents.
According to Paul Hollie, company spokesman, the company is seeking feedback from independent agents before it finalizes a decision. “We’ve have had several meetings with our agency councils and always keep an open line with agents who are interested in speaking to us about it,” he said. “That’s why we’re talking about it so openly and publicly.”
Hollie said that the Internet-based approach would be supplemental distribution arm that would “absolutely not take away from existing business.” However, the company wanted to meet customers it currently was not reaching through agents.
“We are looking at buying preferences,” Hollie said. “We’re taking a fresh look at our business and need to work with the marketplace that’s before us. We definitely want to have the quality of products available to every customer and allow every customer to purchase it in a way that’s convenient for them. That doesn’t take away from the independent agency part of our distribution channel. That’s the backbone of our company.”
While Safeco does not know when it will make a decision on whether to add Internet-based sales to its distribution channel, Hollie said the company “is taking a very close look at it and expect to have some sort of conclusion in the coming couple of quarters.”
“One thing I would like to be clear on with our agents is that we’re including their feedback in this,” Hollie said. We’re taking their feedback into our overall research. What form it eventually takes, I can’t tell yet.”
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