Allstate to add 156 jobs in Md.

3 new claims centers to handle work of 8 offices in state, Va.

April 04, 2002|By William Patalon III | William Patalon III,SUN STAFF

Allstate Insurance Co. will add 156 positions to the 469 jobs it already has in its Maryland claims operations, part of a consolidation that includes the shutdown of two locations in Northern Virginia, Maryland economic development officials announced yesterday.

Allstate, the nation's largest publicly held insurance company, will close eight of its current facilities in the region - the two in Virginia, plus six in Maryland.

Those offices will be consolidated into three new offices: one each in Baltimore, Howard and Montgomery counties, said David S. Iannucci, secretary of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.

The moves should be finished by December 2003.

"Any time we can move jobs from the other side of the river to this side of the river, I'm very happy," Iannucci said yesterday.

Insurance companies nationwide are consolidating their operations - both to cut costs and improve their customer service.

Allstate is no exception. In recent months, the company has announced plans to consolidate claims offices in Florida, and to close a claims operation in St. Louis.

When the Northbrook, Ill., insurer announced its fourth-quarter results in early February, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Edward M. Liddy said the firm was "not pleased" with numbers he labeled "uneven."

Allstate spokesman Michael J. Trevino said the nationwide streamlining effort would affect 230 of its claims offices, with some gaining workers while others are closed.

Once finished, the company estimates the consolidation will save it about $140 million annually, which makes it a very important plan.

"Roughly one half of our property and casualty operation is claims, so absolutely it's significant," Trevino said.

When Allstate looked to consolidate in this part of the country, it considered sites in Northern Virginia, Washington and Maryland before making its choice, Iannucci said.

Allstate workers in Virginia who relocate may fill some of the 156 new jobs, the state agency said. But fewer than half the employees offered the chance to move will do so, according to Iannucci. Any positions not filled by transferees will be filled by Marylanders, he said.

His department said many of the new jobs would be white-collar positions that require both a college degree and substantial computer experience. Officials couldn't give the salary range.

With the investment Allstate is making here, it's always possible the current consolidation could lead to even more local jobs, Iannucci said.

"We always view these competitions [for corporate relocations] as creating opportunities for future growth," he said.

"Allstate has made a substantial real-estate investment here," so as the company's business in this region grows, it's only logical that extra jobs would be added in this area, he said.

The cost to the state of Allstate's expansion wasn't steep, Iannucci said. The state offered about $75,000 in training money. And it offered a tax credit that could have a long-term cost to the state of several hundred thousand dollars, he said.

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