Allstate Gives Its Agents Their Own Web Sites

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Allstate Insurance Company is helping its 11,000 exclusive agents create their own individual Web sites.

Visitors to Allstate.com, Allstates consumer Web site, can use its agent locator feature not just to find their local agency but also to go directly to the agencys Web site, which the company says will have its own easy-to-remember URL, or Internet address. Where several agents work at a given agency, the locator provides a link to each agents individual site. Experts on Web technology say Allstates program is unusual in that the carrier helps each agent tailor his or her site, while giving visitors quotes and information about financial and other products specifically available from that agent.

Allstate, in Northbrook, Ill., says it customizes each agencys information to fit the rules of the state where the agency is located. The agency locator system on Allstates home page is “now more robust and comprehensive,” says company spokeswoman Emily Daly. “It has true functionality, whereas before, it only acted as business card,” providing little more than contact information. Each site also features detailed background information about agents in the local office along with financial calculators and other tools to help educate customers about such topics as savings, education and retirement planning.

Consumers also can sign up for newsletters or promotional announcements from a given agentagain, supplied in large part by Allstate. Gomez Advisors, a research firm in Boston, says the Web sites give Allstate agents a strong motivation to make the online channel work for them. Tim Carpenter, a senior analyst for Gomez, says few carriers actually have tried to create a formal Web presence for each of their agents. Nationwide Financial Services Inc., Columbus, Ohio, also has used the Web to strengthen its lead-generation system for agents, Carpenter says. However, Allstate is exceptional in that it provides not just an agent page but an actual Web site for each agent, he says. This creates value not only for the visitor to Allstates corporate site, but also for the agent, because a link is provided to the agents own site.

“As the visitor surfs the site, he is getting information on products, while the agents picture, name and phone number is consistently branded throughout the pages of the site,” says Carpenter.

Allstate assigns a unique URL, or Web address, to each agent, simplified so that it can be printed easily on the agents business card. In addition, each agent site has a high level of customization, including maps, directions and a list of agent staff.

“Both Nationwide and Allstate in the last year have introduced online agent referral systems where the customer can get follow-up from agents,” Carpenter says. “Agents are handed these very warm leads.”

Nationwides online insurance quote process promotes the value of working with an agent, then delivers to the prospective customer a list of local agents who can sell a given product.

“What you find is carriers are getting a better understanding of how the Internet distribution fits into their overall schemes,” Carpenter says. “Theyre recognizing that the agents control the customer relationship.”


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, February 27, 2004. Copyright 2004 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved. Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.