A mid-sized national home and auto insurer highly rated for customer satisfaction has closed its Buffalo office, shifting some jobs and responsibilities an hour away to a much larger facility in suburban Rochester.
Amica Mutual Insurance Co., of Lincoln, R.I., had previously announced plans to close its Amherst office more than three years ago to consolidate its regional operations in Fairport. That gave its employees plenty of notice, and the Amherst office, which had as many as 20 people at one time, had just five when it closed this month.
All employees were offered jobs in Fairport, with relocation benefits, if they wanted to move. Anyone who left during the three-year period was given double severance, up to half a year's pay. Or they could simply stay for as long as they wanted. In the end, only two relocated, with a third now commuting.
Fairport is the insurer's largest office in the state, with about 90 people handling the territory west of Albany. The company also has offices in Albany and on Long Island, splitting Eastern New York.
New York regional vice president James F. Murphy said the decision to close was not related to the size of the insurer's customer base in upstate and Western New York, which he said is large and growing. He said he did not have a breakdown, however.
Rather, he said the insurer's business as a national direct writer, operating mostly by phone, fax and online, means it no longer needs to have offices in every state. For example, the company has just one office for all of Michigan, two offices in California, and some offices that cover more than one state.
Indeed, it's unusual for Amica to have two offices as close together as Buffalo and Rochester, and even the three offices the company still has in New York -- Fairport, Albany and Long Island -- is a large concentration for it. Amica has 40 offices nationwide.