Magazine article American Banker

Ethnic Marketing Drive Paying off for Allstate

Magazine article American Banker

Ethnic Marketing Drive Paying off for Allstate

Article excerpt

At a time when many financial services companies are looking to ethnic marketing as a way to add and keep loyal customers, Allstate Insurance is reaping the benefit of its own initiative, launched some five years ago.

Allstate's sales have surged to $1.7 billion worth of premiums on auto, homeowners, and life insurance to Hispanics in the last year, up from about $1 billion in 1995, when it began targeting Spanish-speaking people through its agency system.

Now, as more Americans purchase their insurance through banks, the Northbrook, Ill., insurance company is considering whether the bank distribution system would be a worthwhile way to extend the effort.

"Working with a bank would be a great opportunity, especially as the Hispanic community matures relative to financial services," said Raymond Celaya, who heads up Allstate's ethnic marketing.

Though marketing insurance to Hispanics through banks is still in an embryonic stage, banks already own insurance agencies based in Hispanic communities and are marketing aggressively in these places.

That is an important element in any potential partner, said Mr. Celaya. "When we start working with banks, we will need to work with banks that not only have Spanish-speaking employees in the branches but also have enough Hispanics in the area that it serves."

Some other companies have opted for acquisitions rather than alliances in this area. For example Patgo Insurance Agency was bought by Princeton, N.J.-based Summit Bancorp three years ago and now operates as Summit Insurance Advisors' Newark, N.J., office, nestled in the city's Portuguese-speaking enclave. It writes mostly personal property and casualty insurance.

Part of the agency's marketing strategy for the Newark area is to cross-sell banking and insurance products to its Spanish- or Portuguese-speaking clients, said Lisa Galante, a senior vice president for Summit Insurance Advisors of Cranford, N. …

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