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Allstate Corp. says it has entered into an agreement to buy online auto insurer Esurance and independent insurance agency Answer Financial from White Mountains Insurance Group Ltd. for about $1 billion.

“This is a significant acquisition for Allstate, not in terms of any immediate market-share growth, but because it will—in time—enhance Allstate’s ability to support multiple distribution channels and offer an independent auto-quote service to better compete with Progressive and GEICO,” says Stephen Applebaum, a senior P&C industry analyst for Aite Group.

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