NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Allstate (ALL) has seen customers come and go over the years to rivals like Geico, a unit of Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B). Geico, known for its clever commercials, is now seeing competition for online customers from its competitor Allstate. Allstate, which operates a large agent network around the country, appears ready to attract new customers with a "speed matters" approach for the digital age.
At 2:53 p.m. today, Allstate was trading at $53.99, up 0.24% today, and flirting with the 52-week high of $54.30. Geico was trading at $113.67, up 0.43% for the day.
Geico has long been known for its catchphrase: "15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance." This motto and an aggressive advertising campaign powered Geico to be one of the leaders in online care insurance. Berkshire Hathaway bought Geico in 1996 and has controlled it ever since.
To compete in the same online market, Allstate decided to also go the acquisition route. In 2011, Allstate bought Esurance for $1 billion. The largest publicly traded U.S. home and auto insurer, Allstate is now using Esurance to take on Geico directly. In new commercials narrated by actor John Krasinski, Esurance tells customers that "15 minutes for a quote is crazy. With Esurance, seven-and-a-half minutes could save you on car insurance. Welcome to the modern world."
While Esurance doesn't make the same promise to save 15%, it does offer an appeal to time-sensitive customers and takes a swipe at Geico. Esurance has also been a key source of growth at Allstate. In the fourth quarter, net written premiums for Esurance increased 23%. Policies increased 26.7% at Esurance in the fourth quarter. For the full fiscal year, Esurance saw net written premiums increase 27.9%. That is a key piece for Allstate, posting revenue of $34.5 billion. That's an increase of 3.6%.