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Allstate adjusting to acquisition of Esurance

Published: Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 09:06

Erin Pursel, 28, a public relations consultant in Denver who is covered by Progressive, said she had an unpleasant claims experience after her car was damaged in April by an Esurance-insured driver in a gas station parking lot while she was vacuuming her vehicle.

She said her initial contact with Esurance was "great."

"There was little wait time to speak to a customer service representative, and the man I dealt with was friendly," Pursel said. She quickly received an email on April 27 confirming her claim and saying that she would be contacted within 24 hours by a Dallas claims employee.

That's when the situation deteriorated.

By May 2, she still hadn't heard anything. So she sent an email to the agent asking about her claim's status. A few hours later, she said, she received a "somewhat rude" email stating that Esurance hadn't received the estimate on fixing her bumper. Pursel said that documentation was included in her claim.

On May 4, Pursel said she again emailed asking for a status report but got no response.

On May 7, she said she called the Dallas Esurance office and left a message asking again about the status of her claim. She also tweeted that day about her frustrations in dealing with the company.

On May 8, she got a phone call from an Esurance employee saying that a check would be mailed.

"She was rude and short with me and, before I could even ask any questions, rushed off of the phone," Pursel recalled.

She received the check May 14, but it was for a lesser amount than the estimate.

"Luckily, the body shop that wrote the estimate has been wonderful to work with and was able to explain to me why the check was cut for a lesser amount," Pursel said. "At this point, my car is scheduled to go in next week for repairs, all of which are covered by the check Esurance sent me."

An Allstate spokeswoman acknowledged that the situation should have been handled better but said Esurance responded to Pursel within 25 minutes of her posting an exasperated tweet on May 7 and contacted her the next day saying a check was on the way.

Besides changes to Esurance's claims process, Allstate said in its first-quarter earnings call that Esurance's pricing is also likely to change. "We're adding the benefit of our deep pricing knowledge," Civgin said.

Allstate is known for not being afraid to raise rates to maintain its profit margins, but Chief Executive Tom Wilson noted in a brief interview after his company's shareholder meeting that Esurance drivers would see "more accurate pricing than before," including lower-risk Esurance drivers possibly seeing lower premiums. He also said new Esurance products being considered include renters and homeowners insurance.

For now, Shreveport's Bogan is enjoying Esurance's low rates. He previously had Allstate.

He didn't shop around much for insurance during the seven years he was with Allstate because he once was burned by a cut-rate insurer. In April, however, the Bogans dropped collision coverage on their Allstate policy and noticed "considerable" savings.

"Initially when we had full coverage on both cars from Allstate, it was about $350 a month," said Bogan, who is also a musician and sole proprietor of multimedia content provider DigitalBlack Media. "We dropped the collision, and it was somewhere around $200 for that one month, but then the next month when I went to pay it, it was back to $334 for just comprehensive."

Concerned that there had been an error, he called his Allstate agent's office and learned there had been a statewide rate increase.

He visited Esurance's website to get a quote, and 15 minutes later he was a customer.

"Esurance is $145 a month for full coverage on both cars, a pretty significant savings," Bogan said.

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