In 16 states and the District of Columbia , independent agents and brokers now can go online and quote complex package operations (commercial property and general liability insurance combined) with the same ease as writing a Safeco businessowners policy (BOP). That's because Seattle-based Safeco has fully automated the sale of commercial insurance packages to more than 800 classes of small- and mid-sized businesses.Accounts such as manufacturers, restaurant chains and auto mechanics can be quoted online in as few as 15 minutes, with the first price being the right price, the company claims.

The remaining 31 states where Safeco does commercial business will receive this capability Dec. 13, 2005.

This functionality is made possible with Safeco Now, the insurer's online sales-and-service platform where agents and brokers can write up to 12 personal, commercial and surety products in minutes. With the expansion of package business on Safeco Now, independent agents and brokers have a full suite of commercial products just a mouse-click away - BOP, package, commercial auto, workers compensation, commercial umbrella, monoline property and monoline general liability.

"When agents need a quote right away, they can take control of the situation and quote Safeco Now," says Mike Hughes, senior vice president of Safeco Business Insurance. "Many insurers make agents wait one-to-two weeks for commercial package quotes. Beginning today, Safeco will complete the job in 15 minutes."

Safeco Now can accept applications for businesses with up to 25 locations. For online applications that require the review of a mid-market underwriter, the initial response time for most policies will be within 24 hours.

While the 800 commercial classes available on Safeco Now create a host of new-business options, all these choices may cause some confusion. That's why the company also introduced today the Market Appetite Guide--a quick-answer tool that sits on top of Safeco Now's quote-and-issue system and directs agents to the best product for a particular risk.

Independent agents answer four basic questions, and in return are linked to the most appropriate new-business application--BOP or package on Safeco Now, or via an ACORD application for risks not available on the platform. The guide also indicates if the risk is available for the other products within Safeco's commercial suite. If Safeco is not a market for the risk, agents find out immediately, eliminating an unnecessary quote submission.

Safeco Now was launched in 2003, offering bindable quotes for BOP, commercial auto and commercial umbrella. Today, independent agents and brokers can quote and issue 12 Safeco commercial and personal products online: personal auto, homeowners, dwelling fire, businessowners, package, commercial auto, workers compensation, commercial umbrella, monoline commercial property, monoline general liability, motorcycle and surety.

Safeco Now is supported by the company's automated underwriting platform, a back-office underwriting and pricing engine so accurate that fewer than 5% of new-business applications require the attention of an underwriter.

Source: Safeco

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