Allstate Scrapping Esurance Brand

Northbrook-based Allstate announced today that it is phasing out the Esurance brand next year as part of what it’s calling a “transformative growth plan” and will be offering car and home insurance online via the Allstate brand. The decision brings Allstate full circle to its status before it acquired San Francisco-based Esurance for $1 billion in cash in 2011 as its way of better competing with Geico and other online auto insurers.

Source: Ad Age | Published on December 20, 2019

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At the time, Allstate CEO Tom Wilson said the company needed the separate brand to differentiate the direct offerings from Allstate’s traditional business of selling insurance through thousands of agents nationwide. Since then, however, Esurance struggled to achieve profitability and never grew enough to be much of a threat to Geico, which during that period overtook Allstate as the second-largest insurer of autos nationwide. Progressive, which also sells online as well as through independent agents, later also passed Allstate by.

In a release, Allstate said it was also eliminating the Encompass brand. Encompass is the company’s unit that sells through independent agents and has struggled more than Esurance has to grow profitably.

Branding all the insurance offerings with the Allstate name will save money and allocate the advertising dollars currently going to Esurance to the Allstate brand, the company said. Esurance last year unveiled a series of ads starring actor Dennis Quaid. Leo Burnett is agency that worked on that campaign and several others for the Esurance brand. An agency spokeswoman said we "do wish them well and support their decisions."

Leo Burnett also faces pressure on the main Allstate brand, which has been building up its own internal agency and bringing more work in-house, such as a recent campaign starring Mayhem--the disruptive character played by Dean Winters and originally created by Leo Burnett.

“Insurance affordability will be improved by combining the Allstate, Esurance, Encompass and Answer Financial organizations into one business model,” the company said. “This will lower costs and support more competitive prices without reducing margins.”

Losing the Esurance brand has the potential, though, to reignite the issues Allstate experienced with its agents when it previously offered cheaper policies online than the ones sold by its agents. Agents already are frustrated with reductions on commissions for renewing customers that go into effect Jan. 1.

“This plan builds on a history of creating change and will improve our competitive position and accelerate growth,” Wilson said in the release. “Customers will benefit from additional service options, greater connectivity and higher-value products, but the plan requires us to embrace change. This reaffirms our commitment to Allstate agents with increased advertising, enhanced new business opportunities and higher new business compensation. This is about leading, not following.”

The traditional agent-sold business has outperformed Esurance in recent years, resuming growth after nearly a decade of shrinking and at a profit margin that is best in the industry.

Since the end of 2012, Esurance’s auto policies have grown less than 50 percent to 1.5 million from 1 million. That wasn’t what Wilson envisioned when Allstate bought Esurance. The Allstate brand sold through agents has well over 20 million auto policies.

The release didn’t address the future of Esurance’s headquarters in San Francisco.