New Allstate unit head puts priority on fixing frayed ties with agents

NORTHBROOK, IL: The recently named president of a major Allstate business division will try to improve relations with disgruntled agents through a series of meetings during the next three months.

NORTHBROOK, IL: The recently named president of a major Allstate business division will try to improve relations with disgruntled agents through a series of meetings during the next three months.

Thomas Wilson was recently appointed president of Allstate Protection, a division of Allstate involved in property and casualty insurance. Wilson had been chairman and president of Allstate Financial, another unit of the company.

Wilson has stated publicly that improving agent relations is high on his priority list. Allstate angered some agents three years ago when it decided to convert them from employees to outside contractors. Some have sued the company, and an effort is under way to unionize agents.

The agent change is "an issue that exists out there," acknowledged Michael Trevino, senior communications manager at Allstate. But, Trevino added, "the conversations he's going to have with employees and agents are not limited to this particular issue."

Wilson's meetings with agents through the end of the year are "essentially an opportunity for Tom to get out and visit with agents and people in the field," Trevino said, adding that Wilson also will be looking to improve customer relations.

"If we improve retention of our property and casualty customers, then we can further penetrate that customer base with our other products," he said.

Trevino confirmed the company is planning new PR efforts, but he would not discuss details.

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