Independent Agents Get the Word Out

Progressive Survey Reveals How Independent Insurance Agents Market Themselves And What Advertising Methods Help Them Grow

MAYFIELD VILLAGE, Ohio, December 2, 2002 � Independent insurance agents use a variety of advertising methods to help them attract consumers to their agency, and the overwhelming majority of agents think their advertising investment has helped them grow their business. These were among the findings in a recent survey of over 1,000 independent agents conducted by Progressive (NYSE:PGR), the largest writer of auto insurance through independent agents in the United States. The survey, conducted online at the company�s agent-dedicated Web site, (FAO) revealed a number of interesting trends in the way agents are choosing to advertise locally.

The survey asked respondents to indicate which methods of advertising they use to promote their agency. Countrywide, 84 percent of respondents said they use Yellow Pages advertising, 49 percent said they place print advertisements in newspapers and/or magazines, and about a quarter of respondents said they use direct mail and/or radio advertising. Interestingly, print advertising is far more popular in the Northeastern states, where 59 percent of respondents said they use it, than in Western states, where only 32 percent said they use it. But agents in Western states lead the country in embracing the Internet as an advertising tool: 32 percent of respondents from Western states said they advertise on the Internet, while only 22 percent of respondents countrywide said they do so.

Overall, these agents are confident that their advertising dollars are well-spent. Ninety-one (91) percent of respondents countrywide said that advertising has helped their agency grow. One-quarter of the respondents credit advertising for more than 25 percent of their agency�s growth last year, while another 43 percent said advertising was responsible for over 10 percent of their agency�s growth.

The survey also asked agents if they receive consumer referrals from the companies they represent and 60 percent of respondents said they do. Agents in the Mid Atlantic and Western states seem more likely to have access to referrals (about 70 percent of respondents from both regions said they get referrals) than agents from the Great Plains, Northeast, Midwest, and Gulf regions (where only 60 percent or fewer respondents said they receive referrals). Progressive�s ProLeads� referrals program, introduced countrywide in May 2001, has helped the company�s authorized agents sell over 45,000 policies.

�Independent agents are uniquely suited to combine personalized service and counsel with choice and competitive products,� said Bob Williams, Progressive�s agent group president. �So it�s important for agents to effectively advertise that uniqueness to their community. As captive writers move their focus away from property and casualty insurance and struggle in a hardening market, independent agents� opportunity for growth is tremendous.�

The Progressive group of insurance companies, in business since 1937, comprises the nation�s fourth largest auto insurance group. The more than 30,000 independent agencies that represent Progressive combine their own personalized service and counsel with Progressive�s trusted brand, superior 24/7 service, innovative technology and competitive rates. Authorized agents can logon to Progressive�s agent-dedicated Web site, (FAO), to access customer policies, state and countrywide news, and other interactive features. The group�s holding company, The Progressive Corporation, is publicly traded at NYSE:PGR.

Note: Progressive�s agent advertising survey regional breakdowns were as follows:

Northeast (CT, ME, MA, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT)
Gulf (AL, FL, LA, MS)

Midwest (IL, IN, IA, MI, MN, MO, OH, WI)

Great Plains (CO, ID, KS, MT, NE, NM, ND, OK, SD, TX, UT, WY)
West (AK, AZ CA, HI, NV, OR, WA)
Mid Atlantic (AR, DE, DC GA, KY, MD, NC, SC, TN, VA, WV)