While insurers of all kinds work hard to ramp up their digital prowess, State Auto has gone right to the source.

The Ohio-based multiline P&C insurer, which has used independent agents exclusively throughout its existence, has hired Michael LaRocco as its next president and CEO, effective May 8. LaRocco last was CEO of AssureStart, an online distributor of commercial insurance backed by American Family.

“The breadth of Mike’s experience in the insurance industry is remarkable,” said State Auto Financial Corporation lead director Paul Williams, in a statement. “As a result, he understands the dynamic nature of the insurance marketplace, while sharing our strong commitment to the independent agency system. We’re excited to have Mike join us to lead our renewed focus on delivering exceptional service and value to our policyholders and shareholders.”

LaRocco, who has also worked at Safeco and Fireman's Fund, will replace Robert Restrepo, the president, CEO and chairman of State Auto who will remain in his chairmanship until Dec. 31. “During Bob's tenure, we've built important and necessary infrastructure, expanded our geographic footprint, made key acquisitions and strengthened our talent, all while addressing some significant challenges. We thank Bob for his leadership and continued contributions during the upcoming transition,” said State Auto Mutual lead director Jim Kunk.

An Ohio native, LaRocco comments that he is "proud and honored to have the opportunity to lead an outstanding organization and team at State Auto" and "excited to be returning to my Ohio roots." He also said the company under his leadership will continue to "honor" the "tradition" of independent agency and broker distribution.

[Read why insurers don't have to fear Google backing into their business]

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