June 13--RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH -- An information technology venture that will spin off from Allianz Global Assistance USA could grow to several hundred employees in a few years, says Jon Ansell, the new company's chairman.
"We do expect to be a successful and fast-growing company," Ansell said Tuesday.
Ansell and another of Allianz Global Assistance USA's founders, Beth Godlin, are moving to the new Fusion Co., which will launch July 1. Ansell is now chairman of Allianz Global Assistance USA, a Henrico-based specialty insurance company, and Godlin is its CEO.
Incorporating the staff and resources of the former AGA Interactive Co., the renamed Fusion will be a separate entity hived off from Allianz Global Assistance with Allianz as an investor.
"We have built this technology and ability, and applied it primarily in the travel business here and abroad," Ansell said. "We believe there are opportunities well beyond tourism and travel."
With Ansell as chairman, AGA Interactive's current president, Bob Dufour, will be Fusion's president and Godlin will become chief partner services officer.
Mike Nelson, Orbitz Worldwide's president of partner services, will take over as Allianz Global Assistance USA's new chief executive officer on July 1.
Nelson was part of the management team that launched the global online travel company Orbitz. At Allianz Global Assistance, Nelson will be responsible for the company's Americas Zone -- the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Brazil -- and will sit on the company's global executive committee.
Allianz Global Assistance, formerly known as Mondial Assistance, is one of the Richmond region's largest employers. It ranked 30th on the Richmond Times-Dispatch's 2012 Top 50 list with more than 900 employees.
Innovation use of information technology systems has driven the success of Ansell's companies. Fusion was created in 2007 as a unit within Allianz, itself a global financial services firm.
Now with 60 employees, Fusion will use real-time behavioral data analysis and marketing to personalize product offers, expanding beyond travel and event-ticket insurance to finance, health care and retail products and services.
"It really speaks to all the [global] megatrends," Ansell, "mobile, digitization, personalization, offering [people] products and services just in time, what they want when they need it."
Using the example of a person going online to book a family vacation trip from Richmond to Florida in September for four people, renting a car, and going to a hurricane-prone region, Ansell said, "we'd receive information about that trip -- not about you -- and in a third of second (we would) craft back to you a travel-insurance product that would be relevant to your trip."
Ansell and Godlin have developed travel insurance into an important additional revenue source for airlines, online travel agencies, travel agents and other major travel suppliers.
After 26 years with the company and its predecessors, Ansell said, "I'm very proud of what I've done [with Alliance Global Assistance USA]. I've been able to participate in this with so many good people. I will miss that."
Headquartered in Henrico, Fusion will be affiliated with Allianz and support its operations, but the new firm will be "operating independently and beyond Allianz," he said. Fusion will have its own board of directors with Allianz representation.
Remi Grenier, president of Paris-based Allianz Global Assistance Group, thanked Ansell and Godlin for their work and leadership. "We look forward to working with them in the years ahead."
"I'd also like to welcome Mike Nelson to the group and wish him the best of luck in his new role," Grenier said. "Mike is highly regarded in the travel industry and I know that his experience and business acumen will help propel the company to new heights of success."
Allianz Global Assistance USA has operation centers in 29 countries. Known for its Allianz Travel Insurance, the firm insures 13 million U.S. customers.
Allianz Global Assistance USA also offers event ticket protection, and international medical assistance and concierge services. Additionally, the company provides call-center services and claims administration for health insurers, property and casualty insurers, and credit card companies.
Based in Munich, Germany, Allianz SE is the 20th largest corporation in the world with 151,000 employees and 76 million customers in more than 70 countries.
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