Nation/World

Travelers Plans To Settle In Spokane Insurance Company Will Fill 500 Quality Jobs, Many Locally

Travelers Property Casualty has selected Spokane as the site of its West Coast national sales center. Within three years, the company expects to employ 500 people here, all at salary-benefit packages exceeding $25,000.

The value of those jobs makes Travelers the single largest recruit to Spokane’s economy in the 10-year history of the Spokane Area Economic Development Council, according to Frank Tombari, chairman of the EDC.

“This will bring quality jobs to Spokane at a $12.5 million to $15 million annual payroll,” Sally Harris, manager for business development with the EDC, said Wednesday at a press conference announcing Travelers decision.

“The total economic impact will be $30 million annually for Spokane,” Harris said.

Phil Kenyon, vice president of Travelers Insurance’s direct response operations, said his company searched throughout the Western United States to find a location for its newest sales center.

He said they chose Spokane because of its strong educational infrastructure, its deep employment pool, and its quality of life.

“We wanted to locate in the type of place where we could recruit and hire people, and they would stay with our company a long time,” Kenyon said. “We didn’t want to be in a city where people came for the experience, and then were anxious to move on.”

Eighty to 100 employees will be hired this year and almost all of the company’s employees will be hired locally, Kenyon said. The local facility will open in January. Travelers is still searching for a site to house the local operation.

Travelers Property Casualty is a member of the Travelers Group, a diversified financial services company. Travelers Property Casualty was formed in 1996 through the merger of The Travelers Indemnity Co. and The Aetna Casualty and Surety Co.

Travelers officials say the new company is the largest insurer of autos and homes among independent agency companies nationwide. It is also the third-largest writer of commercial insurance in the nation.

Travelers Property Casualty, which has 21,000 employees nationally, has other sales centers in Knoxville, Tenn., and Houston. Kenyon said Spokane’s center will be the largest of the three.

“This center represents company growth,” Kenyon said. “We aren’t closing anything to move here.”

The company will hire locally to fill managerial positions, training positions and underwriting positions, Kenyon said, but most of the local positions will be in sales.

The facility will be involved in sales of auto and homeowners and personal liabilities policies.

The sales staff, Kenyon said, will provide policy and pricing information to customers “who have already expressed an interest in our coverage.” That customer base will be nationwide.

A West Coast location, he said, gives the company the ability to support a national program that includes eastern time zones.

“A lot of the business that we do is in the evening hours on the East Coast,” Kenyon said. “That gives us the flexibility to have people here work a normal workday.”

Mayor Jack Geraghty said Travelers will help broaden the reach of Spokane’s role as a services center.

“We have always said Spokane is a (regional) service center for a market area much beyond our immediate vicinity here,” Geraghty said. “But what this means is that now Spokane is a service center for the country.”

Washington State Insurance Commissioner Deborah Senn said the Travelers decision to come to Spokane is a reflection on the state of Washington as a whole.

“Consumer-friendly Washington state is a good place to do business,” Senn said, “and that includes the business of insurance. Competition is one of the best protections for state consumers, and during the past six months, we have admitted 53 new insurance carriers to the state.”

Kenyon said the Washington State Employment Security Department has agreed to assist Travelers in the local hiring process. He said the company will soon publicize an address where interested job candidates can get more information.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Graphic: Coming to town



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