14 July 2011

MetLife Auto Stands By GM Auto Insurance Deal

MetLife Auto Stands By GM Auto Insurance Deal ; MetLife Auto & Home says it sees its direct marketing arrangement with General Motors to provide insurance for new car buyers as a way to increase its brand recognition, which it says should also help its independent agency distribution force.

Some independent agents have questioned the carrier’s marketing deal, now only offered in Oregon and Washington.

Bob Rusbuldt, Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA) president and chief executive officer, said his group believes the marketing campaign raises a host of legal issues. “We have raised licensing and regulatory concerns, along with important consumer issues,” Rusbuldt said. “MetLife Auto & Home has been open to our concerns and is seriously reviewing them.”

But the insurer told Insurance Journal it it is sticking with the GM deal for now.

“Almost since its founding, MetLife Auto & Home has been known as a company utilizing multi-channel sales, so that we can sell policies to prospective customers in the way they want to buy them, and we remain committed to all our sales partners, both agents and employee-benefit sales,” said company spokesman David Hammarström.

“Increased brand recognition for MetLife Auto & Home is a positive for our company and our salesforce, as further customer awareness of the company and its value proposition will continue to drive sales through all distribution channels.”

Hammarström said MetLife Auto & Home was approached about being the exclusive insurance provider for this program.

“Ultimately, we decided that this program could help us to grow our business and increase brand recognition, and was financially viable. We were intrigued by this program’s possibility of reaching additional consumers who otherwise may not have known about MetLife Auto & Home. In addition, this program allows the company to try something that is truly new and unique within the property and casualty industry, which, if successful, may lead to additional growth opportunities in the long run.”

The company said the success of the program will be measured by the number cars sold.

Asked whether the insurer would be interested in forging similar deals with other car makers, Hammarström did not rule it out.

“We do not know whether other manufacturers are interested in this type of program, but we would welcome conversations about similar relationships if that is desired,” he said.

The MetLife Auto policy is offered with the purchase of new GM models from the Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac lineups. The policies cover liability and physical damage coverage, above the states’ required minimum standard, according to GM.

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