After being wooed by other insurance companies over the years, SafeAuto Insurance of Columbus said it found the perfect partner.
In an announcement last week, SafeAuto agreed to be acquired by The Allstate Corporation of Northbrook, Ill., through Allstate subsidiary National General for $300 million.
Jon Diamond, co-founder and vice chairman of SafeAuto, told the Columbus Jewish News June 4 rolling SafeAuto into National General will give National General an additional platform because SafeAuto specializes in the nonstandard auto market on a direct-to-consumer basis, whereas National General is more agent-based.
Diamond said he and his brother-in-law, Ari Desche, who co-founded the company in 1993, had a few “courtships” with other insurance companies, including Progressive Insurance, headquarted in the Cleveland suburb of Mayfield, in the mid-2000s. But those talks never materialized into an acquisition, he said.
Diamond said he felt Allstate is a great fit for several reasons, including Allstate’s ability to reach a wide audience with its marketing and promotion.
“These other insurance carriers have billions, and in some cases, multi-billion dollar advertising budgets,” Diamond said. “So, in today’s environment, having somebody as large as Allstate, the fourth-largest insurer in the country and one of the top 10 in the world, gives SafeAuto the platform to be able to acquire more policyholders and garner a larger share of voice.”
Ron Davies, SafeAuto’s CEO of nine years and a former Allstater, said he is excited to see SafeAuto join the Allstate family and National General.
“Allstate is an iconic brand with superb capabilities and people that will enable SafeAuto to more rapidly scale and serve even more consumers,” he said in a news release.
Diamond, who has been retired for eight years, said he will no longer have a role with the company once the transaction closes, which is expected by the end of 2021’s third quarter. He and Desche have been the co-chairmen of the board for the last eight years.
“I am confident that combining forces with National General with the backing of Allstate will allow SafeAuto to grow its platform in the non-standard space,” Desche said in the release. “I wish to thank all of our past and present associates for their contributions to our success during our 27-year history.”
Diamond, 63, a Cleveland native who lived in Columbus before moving to Miami, said he is regligiously observant and a self-proclaimed Zionist. He plans to continue his philanthropic efforts as he and his wife, Susan Schottenstein Diamond, have endowed their annual gift to JewishColumbus.
He added that they will put a lot of their focus on joining fellow Jewish leadership around the country in combating the rise in antisemitism in the United States.
Diamond added that being Jewish is an essential part of his identity.
"Israel is at the center of our lives. My wife Susie and I spend a lot of time and treasure on pro-Israel initiatives. I spent 15 years on the American Israel Public Affairs Committee national board and we like to visit (Israel) frequently. We have raised our children in a traditional household and have always been members of traditional synagogues. We attend Young Israel in Bal Harbour (Florida) and The Chabad Jewish Center in Aspen."
As for SafeAuto’s customers, Diamond said he trusts the mission of Allstate, and feels they will be in “great hands.”
SafeAuto was founded on the premise the business of people who are challenged financially wasn’t coveted by the standard insurance carriers. Diamond and Desche felt these people deserved a fair-priced policy with friendly service, Diamond said.
“I think that by partnering with somebody like Allstate, who understands the importance of customer service, understands the importance of claims handling, and handling people fairly and quickly when they have a loss, I think that our customers will be in great hands with the ‘good hands’ people,” Diamond said.