VOLUME 6 - ISSUE 6  
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2004

INSURANCE TALK

Cincinnati Insurance Selects Safelite Solutions for Auto Glass Claims Handling
   
The Cincinnati Insurance Companies, based in Fairfield, Ohio, have selected Columbus, Ohio-based Safelite Solutions LLC to provide auto glass claims management solutions for their policyholders, according to a report on the PR Newswire.
    Under the agreement, Safelite Solutions LLC will act as the administrator for Cincinnati’s QuickGlass™ program. When a policyholder or the policyholder’s agent calls the QuickGlass program, the Safelite Solutions team records loss information and schedules service at one of Cincinnati’s network of service providers, including Safelite AutoGlass, or the policyholder’s shop of choice. Safelite Solutions also audits invoices and administers payments to service providers according to Cincinnati’s guidelines.
    Safelite Solutions is a subsidary of Safelite® Auto Glass.

Insurer’s In-Car Data-Gathering Program Sparks Concern
   
The Wall Street Journal reported that Progressive Corp. will begin testing a program to track the frequency and length of drivers’ trips, as well as how fast they drive. The pilot program will take place in Minnesota and will supply volunteers with electronic devices to be installed in cars.         The concept is similar to the black box that can be found in airplanes, which record flight data and conversations. Some car manufacturers already build in data recording equipment into vehicles, to monitor crash information.
    Volunteers to the program will receive a guaranteed auto-insurance discount of 5 percent. 
    The insurance company has made no indication that it will take the program nationwide, and so far has indicated that it will not share information gathered with others. Drivers in the program, however, do have the ability to view the information recorded before it is shared with Progressive.
    Concerns have been raised over a possible invasion of privacy the program could create, despite a recommendation earlier in the month by the National Transportation Safety Board to have black boxes installed in all new cars. The article reported that some critics fear that law enforcement could summon the information from tracking programs such as this to use during investigations or civil lawsuits.

Auto Glass-Insurance Scams Reported on Both Coasts
   More than 30 people have been accused of filing false insurance claims through several body shops in the Riverside and San Bernardino counties in California.
    Meanwhile, sixteen people, including three lawyers, have been indicted by a special grand jury for auto insurance fraud in Massachusetts. Auto insurance fraud in the state has been scrutinized since last year when a grandmother was killed in what authorities believe was a staged accident.

Progressive to Open Data Center in Colorado
   
Auto insurance group Progressive Corp. has announced plans to build a 150,000 square-foot data center in Colorado Springs, Co. in the same complex where the company recently completed a 300,000 square-foot call center. It will be the third Progressive data center in the country. 

Geico Ads Both Loved and Hated
   
The Seattle (Wash.) Post-Intelligencer recently asked its readers to rate television ads and the results, as reported by Bill Virgin reflected a love/hate relationship with Geico and its mascot, the Gecko. According to the article, Geico received the most nominations on both sides of the love/hate debate, with the specific ad featuring the Gecko singing “Kung Fu Fighting” (while the family with which it is riding is singing “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain,”) as a favorite.

eAutoclaims Signs With Federated National Insurance
    eAutoclaims has announced that it has signed a contract to provide the eAutoclaims national repair shop network to Federated National Insurance & American Vehicle Insurance companies for processing their auto physical damage claims. The business will run on eAutoclaims eJusterSuite Internet platform.
    Superior Adjusting Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of the two carriers, executed an agreement and has rolled out the service. 


State Farm Eliminates Hundreds of Jobs 
by Scott Long
   
State Farm is cutting at least 500 jobs in the Mid-Atlantic region over the next two to two and a half years by consolidating operations and closing claims offices, reports the Associated Press.
    Between 400 and 500 jobs at State Farm’s Frederick, Md., operations center will be eliminated. About half of those jobs will be moved to State Farm’s Charlottesville, Va., office.
    State Farm also plans to close half of its 50 field claims offices in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, the District of Columbia, North Carolina and West Virginia, which will eliminate another 400 to 500 jobs.
    A State Farm spokesperson told Hammer and Dolly that enhanced technology, such as being able to send digital photos, is one factor behind the reductions in the workforce.
    “We’re looking at the long-term benefits for our customers,” said the State Farm spokesperson. “It’s a cost savings that makes sure we’re as efficient as possible.”
    Over the past eight months, State Farm additionally announced plans to close operations offices in Marshall, Mich., and Monroe, La.
In February of this year, State Farm reported that higher premiums and lower claims helped it achieve a $2.8 billion profit last year, following two years of multi-billion-dollar losses.
    State Farm also announced in February that cost cuts contributed to a 3½-percent increase in accounts from two and a half years earlier, using 10 percent fewer employees.
     ©2004 Hammer and Dolly magazine. Reprinted with permision.