Former Allstate Agent in North Carolina Agrees to Abide by Non-Compete Agreement
A former Allstate insurance agent in North Carolina has agreed to stop selling competing products to her former clients and to return confidential client information to Allstate.
A federal judge finalized an agreement between longtime agent Janie Robbins, of Tarboro, North Carolina, and Allstate Insurance Co., the result of a lawsuit brought by Allstate that claimed Robbins had violated a 2011 non-compete agreement.
“Allstate customers with no relationship to Robbins are being solicited by Robbins, which is further evidence of Robbins using Allstate confidential information to solicit Allstate customers and compete with Allstate,” reads the lawsuit complaint, filed in June in U.S. District Court for Eastern North Carolina.
Allstate charged that Robbins left Allstate and its downtown agency office in late 2022 and opened a competing agency known as Fountain, Roberson, Anderson Agency (FRAA), less than a mile away. That was in violation of the non-compete agreement she signed when she started at Allstate, a type of agreement that all Allstate agents and licensed service professionals must sign, the complaint notes.
She also began soliciting Allstate policyholders, urging them to transfer their business to the new agency, Allstate argued. Robbins admitted to taking a “closely guarded” Allstate customer list to solicit clients, the lawsuit alleged, and Allstate agencies in the area said they had received cancellation requests from policyholders.
Allstate contends that Robbins’ new office recently moved further away from the Allstate agency in Tarboro, but not until after Allstate sent her strongly worded warning letters, in March of this year. And her solicitations of clients has continued, the insurance giant said.
“Allstate is prepared to protect its interests by all available means,” the Allstate letter reads.
The corporation filed suit, asking the federal judge to enjoin Robbins from continuing to ignore the agreements. The company said it was being irreparably harmed and that monetary damages may not suffice.
Robbins could not be reached for comment but her attorney, Emily Massey, said that Robbins denied all the allegations but has reached an agreement with Allstate in the matter. She declined further comment, noting the injunction was part of a confidential settlement. A principal at the FRAA agency in Tarboro declined to comment. Allstate officials could not be immediately reached Tuesday.
The lawsuit is one of the latest regarding alleged poaching of clients or employees by insurance agents and insurance companies. The practices and legal actions aiming to curtail poaching may be on the rise in the insurance industry, nationwide, as agencies face a shortage of workers, tough market conditions and an increase in the number of businesses and homeowners opting to self-insure.
In Alabama, for example, two agents are now embroiled in suits, aspects of which recently made their way to the state Supreme Court. In Pennsylvania, the state Supreme Court in July upheld a $2.8 million jury verdict against an agency that tried to poach a competitor’s staff and book of business.
Update: This article has been updated to include more information from Robbins’ attorney and about the consent agreement approved by the judge.