Allstate Speaks for Insurance Industry

CHICAGO Under fire for not paying some Katrina-related claims (and with another hurricane season beginning), Allstate is launching a print advocacy campaign intended to explain how the insurance industry works and how business and governmental leaders can make it better.

Beginning tomorrow and continuing every week through year’s end, the Northbrook, Ill., company will place ads in The Wall Street Journal highlighting a different aspect of the insurance industry. The first ad declares insurance to be “the oxygen of free enterprise.” “You probably don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about insurance,” reads the headline over an illustration of a man tiptoeing among banana peels. “But try doing anything without it.”

“It proposes the concept of insurance as a driver of the economy,” said Lisa Cochrane, vice president of integrated marketing communications at Allstate. “It helps people understand the value of insurance.”

Additional ads in the campaign, which was created by Publicis Groupe’s Leo Burnett in Chicago, will highlight teen driving safety, the use of consumer credit history in insurance pricing and deregulation in the insurance industry, Cochrane said.

Spending on the effort was not disclosed. Allstate spent nearly $175 million on ads through May of this year, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

The print campaign will also appear in other publications read by business and government leaders including Time, Newsweek, The Atlantic Monthly and the New Yorker, though with less frequency than in the WSJ.

Allstate has a history of advocacy efforts dating back to the 1930s, when the company advocated mandatory seat belts in all cars, Cochrane said. Last year, the company began a movement to create a publicly funded, privately managed catastrophe fund to help mitigate insurance payments after disasters such as Katrina, she said.

“We felt that as the largest publicly held insurance company, we should speak out on behalf of all insurance companies to set the record straight,” Cochrane said. “And part of setting the record straight is telling how the industry works.”

Allstate has taken recent hits in the media for its decision to discontinue wind and hail coverage for about 30,000 policy holders in Louisiana, though that coverage would be picked up by another company, reported Best’s Insurance News. The company also has more than 1,200 hurricane-related complaints filed against it in Louisiana, according to BIN.

Allstate is the second-largest personal insurer in the country, behind privately held State Farm.