Tuesday, January 28, 2003

What's The Buzz?


Great American sells auto unit

By Cliff Peale
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Great American Insurance Co. on Monday continued its exit from the private-passenger car insurance business, agreeing to sell its direct-to-consumer business for about $30 million in cash.

Great American acquired the Worldwide Insurance subsidiary in 1999, and hoped to use it as a platform for more distribution of its auto policies, sold mostly to high-risk drivers.

Worldwide's specialty was selling policies directly to consumers, including through Internet sales. Through the first nine months of 2002, personal auto premiums produced through direct channels, or not through insurance agents, totaled about $80 million, the company said in a news release.

But Great American this year is selling stock in about 70 percent of its car-insurance units in a public offering, and the remaining specialty lines aren't as amenable to direct sales. It will sell Worldwide to the Response Insurance Group.

Carl Lindner III, head of property and casualty operations at Great American, said the deal "represents another step in clarifying our position as a specialty commercial writer."

Great American is a unit of American Financial Group Inc., the umbrella company for the financial interests of Reds owner Carl Lindner Jr.




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