Tuesday, April 08, 2008, 4/08/2008 02:52:00 PM

Good Hands Trade Secrets: Allstate Releases Data on How it Sets Rates

By Todd
The Chicago Tribune has reported Allstate's release of the documents was on the heels of an appeals court ruling in Florida on Friday that upheld the regulator's suspension in January of the insurer from writing new policies in the state until it complied fully with subpoenas seeking information about how it sets rates. The situation had followed one in Missouri in which the insurer was willing to accept fines rather than submit similar documents to a court.

On Monday, the Florida state regulator said it submitted a motion to the court seeking clarification on whether the suspension could be effective immediately or at the end of a 15-day period. Meanwhile, Allstate continues to write new business in Florida as it reviews its legal options.The state of Florida said it will need time to determine whether the documents posted Friday are the ones the agency had been seeking in its subpoena.

"We don't have a reaction yet because we haven't reviewed the documents," Zutell said of Allstate's posting. "Are they actually the McKinsey documents? Are they all the McKinsey documents? We don't know yet."

For years, Allstate refused to make the documents publicly available, calling its actions "respectful civil disobedience" and saying trade secrets were involved. Allstate has maintained that these documents contain trade secrets it will not release. It is alleged that these documents detail a business strategy created by the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. back in the 1990’s that is believed to have been widely used in the insurance industry.

Allstate said Monday that it didn't post the documents in response to Friday's court ruling, noting that it could not have created a site with 150,000 pages that quickly.

"We think the documents do merit protection and what we did to protect them was justified, but at some point you have to look to the threat of the brand," spokesman Rich Halberg said. "Critics were using bits and snippets of documents to create an inaccurate picture of claims."

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