Safeco Forms New Leadership Structure

Seattle-based Safeco announced a new leadership structure for the company, reflecting its evolution from a turnaround concern to a profit-and-growth enterprise.

The cornerstone of the structure is the newly created “Office of the President,” which will be led by Safeco chairman and CEO Mike McGavick and include Michael LaRocco as co-president responsible for Product, Underwriting and Claims; Christine Mead as co-president responsible for Service, Technology and Finance; and a new, yet-to-be-named co-president responsible for Marketing, Sales and Distribution.

“Now that our turnaround is behind us, our greatest challenge is to accelerate organic, profitable growth within our company. This new leadership structure will direct more energy to addressing the strategic issues and opportunities that will take us to the next level of success,” McGavick said. “The three leaders joining the Office of the President – two promoted from within and one recruited from outside – will work with me in this important effort.”

The announcement follows Safeco’s recent sale of its Life & Investments business and its redefinition as a Property/Casualty (P/C) insurance company serving drivers, homeowners and small- and medium-sized businesses.

“The new design not only streamlines our leadership structure, it aligns with how we operate: auto, home and business insurance products delivered over a unified platform through a common network of independent distributors,” McGavick said.

Reporting to McGavick will be:

Michael LaRocco, co-president – Product, Underwriting and Claims

Formerly president of Safeco Personal Insurance, LaRocco will assume responsibility for Product, Underwriting and Claims operations for all Safeco businesses. His new organization will bring together the company’s product lines (auto, home, commercial, surety and specialty lines), underwriting and the team that fulfills the products’ promise when a claim is filed.

Christine Mead, CFO and co-president – Service, Technology and Finance

In addition to her current responsibilities as CFO, Mead will oversee Service, Information Technology, Human Resources and Operations. Central to Mead’s organization is the platform that delivers sales and service support to Safeco distributors and customers – from the underlying technology and customer service interactions to the people and infrastructure that support it all.

Co-president – Marketing, Sales and Distribution

A search is underway for this leader, who will be responsible for acquiring new customers, building and protecting Safeco’s brand, and supporting the more than 7,500 independent distributors who sell Safeco insurance products. This organization will include Sales, Distribution, Marketing, Research, Brand and Reputation Management.

The new structure will take effect Nov. 3, 2004.

“We’ve spent much of last three years in a sprint for survival,” McGavick noted. “With a solid financial foundation and a clear P/C business focus, now we’re gearing up for a marathon of long-term profit and growth. This new leadership structure is designed to reflect our focus and support our business model to full advantage.”