NU Online News Service, Jan. 30, 2004, 12:09 p.m. EST – Allstate Insurance Company is helping its 11,000 exclusive agents create their own customer Web sites.[@@]

A visitor to Allstate.com, Allstate’s consumer Web site, can use the agent locator feature not just to find a local agency but also to go directly to the agency’s Web site, which can have its own easy-to-remember Internet address.

Each agency site gives consumers quotes as well as information about products available from the agent. Allstate Insurance, a unit of Allstate Corp., Northbrook, Ill., says it tailors each agency’s insurance information to fit the rules of the state where the agency is located.

The agency locator system “now is more robust and comprehensive,” says company spokeswoman Emily Daly. “Before, it only acted as a business card.”

The local agent sites help Allstate promote its brands while turning agents’ sites into one-stop insurance shopping centers, Daly says.

Each site features detailed background information about the agents in the local office along with financial calculators and other tools to inform customers about such topics as savings, education and retirement planning.

Consumers also can sign up for newsletters and promotional announcements.

The customized Web sites give Allstate agents ” a vested interest in making the online channel work,” according to an analytical brief from Gomez Advisors, Boston.