Boston-based insurance giant Liberty Mutual is consolidating customer service operations from hundreds of sales offices scattered around the country to six call centers, including one in Springfield.
About 1,100 positions in some 350 sales offices, including 17 in Massachusetts, will be eliminated, replaced with 1,000 customer service jobs at the call centers, said John Cusolito, a Liberty Mutual vice president. The company is opening an office in the Dallas area where some of the new jobs will be located.
“By expanding our centralized call centers, we’ll be able to increase our overall service capabilities, we’ll be able to give customers a faster solution to their service needs, and they’ll get a more consistent customer experience,” Cusolito said.
The changes should be complete by mid-2016.
Of the 1,100 customer service reps affected, 80 of them work in Massachusetts. Cusolito said 65 jobs will be added to the Springfield service center this year, and more could be added next year. More than 300 people work at the Springfield office now, including 190 in the call center there, he said.
Liberty Mutual is the nation’s third-largest property and casualty insurer. The company reported last month that the compensation of chief executive David Long jumped 27 percent last year, to nearly $14 million. Its net income for 2014 was $1.8 billion, up 5 percent from the prior year.
Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services in December gave Liberty Mutual a “stable” rating, saying it expects the company’s operating performance “to lag behind its peers.”
Liberty Mutual is a “mutually” owned insurance company, meaning it is technically owned by its policyholders.
Several days ago, the company said it would end its annual sponsorship of the July Fourth fireworks on the Esplanade after this year. It has supported the popular event, which cost $2.5 million last year, for a decade.
The workers affected by the job shifts help customers over the phone and in person with auto and home insurance policies. Employees were notified Wednesday, Cusolito said. None of the 350 sales offices will be closed as a result, he said, as other Liberty Mutual employees will continue to work in those locations.
Cusolito said the affected workers could apply for other jobs in the company’s workforce of 50,000-plus employees worldwide.
“We will minimize job loss by encouraging local service employees to apply for positions in one of the six call centers, or seek positions in other Liberty Mutual offices,” Cusolito said. “However, for those employees who we cannot retain, we will provide severance packages and outplacement assistance.”
The biggest beneficiary of this shift will be Plano, Texas. The company plans to open an office there with several hundred new jobs later this year, Cusolito said. Jobs will be added at other call centers in addition to the new positions in Plano and Springfield. Cusolito said the insurer’s other call centers are in Phoenix, Tampa, New Castle, Pa., and Mishawaka, Ind.
In Boston, Liberty Mutual received $46.5 million in state and local tax breaks in 2010 to expand its Boston headquarters and add about 600 workers, a historically large tax incentive for the state. The $300 million expansion opened in 2013.