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SAMMI enters Texas; industry veteran to lead Austin-based office

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COLUMBUS, Ohio
May 8, 2007 – A fast-growing business insurance unit of the State Auto Insurance Companies is coming to Texas, which recently became the companies’ 29th state of operation through the acquisition of the Beacon Insurance Group of Wichita Falls, Texas.

State Auto Middle Market Insurance (SAMMI) was created in early 2004 in response to agent requests to expand the size and scope of its commercial lines business to include larger commercial risks, usually with at least $100,000 in annual premium.  Since that time, SAMMI, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, has grown exponentially, necessitating the creation of offices in Naperville (Chicago), Ill., Peoria (Phoenix), Ariz., and Hunt Valley (Baltimore), Md. Gerald F. Ladner has been named vice president of SAMMI’s new southwestern zone office in Austin, Texas.

"We're looking forward to moving aggressively into the Texas market with State Auto's personal and business insurance products through Beacon, which is now our southwest region office," said State Auto Chairman and CEO Bob Restrepo. "Gerald and our SAMMI team, based in Austin, will offer our new agency partners in Texas the ability to write even larger business risks, with the exceptional service and support that those agents expect and deserve."

Ladner was named one of 35 rising executives within the industry by Business Insurance magazine in 2002. His 25-year career includes a number of management and senior management roles with CG/Aetna, CIGNA and Zurich. Ladner also served as president and chief operating officer of an Atlanta-based independent insurance agency. He was most recently regional vice president of the Austin (Texas) unit of Zenith Insurance. 

“Gerald knows the Texas market extremely well. We’re fortunate to have him joining our team,” said SAMMI Vice President Larry Williams. “Texas has the best combination of a vigorous economy, an improving legal environment, professional regulation and high growth potential of any state in the U.S. We need top-flight leadership like Gerald to capitalize on this top-flight opportunity.”

Ladner holds an undergraduate degree from Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., and currently serves on their board of trustees. He is also a graduate of the Executive Program at Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

In addition to serving as on the committee of the Glen L. Taylor Endowed Chair in Insurance at the University of North Texas, Ladner has also served on the boards of the Texas Medical Liability Joint Underwriting Association, Texas Property and Casualty Guaranty Association, the Independent Insurance Agents of Dallas Agency Company Committee and Allen Community Outreach (a United Way agency).

The State Auto Insurance Companies, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, are engaged primarily in writing personal and business insurance products through approximately 3,300 agencies in 29 states. The State Auto Companies include State Auto Financial Corporation (NASDAQ:STFC), and State Automobile Mutual Insurance Company, which is one of only 14 companies rated A+ (Superior) by the A.M. Best Company every year since at least 1954. STFC is traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market, which represents the top third of all NASDAQ-listed companies, and is one of just three percent of publicly-listed companies to earn the 2006 Mergent Dividend Achiever Award for having increased its dividends ten or more years in succession. State Auto is proud to be a Trusted Choice® company partner. More information is available online at StateAuto.com.

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