As insurance carriers expand into financial services and provide multichannel access for customers, many agents are not going along with the new program.Both State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. and Allstate Insurance Co. were sued in November by their agent associations. The agent associations are claiming the carriers have breached their contracts with the agents by increasing agents' production quotas, reducing their commissions, coercing agencies to forward their phones to call centers, and selling insurance directly to customers over the Internet.

"The move (by State Farm) into financial services has left its agents wondering what they're supposed to do and how they're supposed to do it," says Bob O'Connor, legal counsel for the Baltimore-based National Association of State Farm Agents, which filed a lawsuit Nov. 2 against the Bloomington, Ill.-based carrier in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

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