Despite some growing pains, Allstate is confident that its bold newconsumer-direct initiative will benefit agents, consumers and the company.It isn't often that an insurance carrier can utter the phrase"consumer-direct sales" and win friends among its network of agents. Butthat's exactly what Northbrook, Ill.-based Allstate Insurance Co. believesit's in the process of accomplishing.

Despite the negative opinions most agents harbor for a consumer-directsales approach, Allstate has big plans for its network of 13,200 agents tocatalyze its Allstate Direct initiative, a $1 billion, multichannelstrategy that was launched in Oregon in March.

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