HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Sears Home Administrative Services Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of Sears, Roebuck and Co., has entered into an agreement with Farmers Insurance Group and Zurich U.S., to provide administrative services in support of Farmers’ home protection insurance product.

Homeowners holding these policies would essentially be locked into Sears HomeCentralSM for their appliance repairs.

The policy, issued and underwritten by Farmers, protects homeowners against unexpected financial loss due to the failure of their home’s major appliances, central heating, central air conditioning, plumbing, and electrical systems.

Farmers will launch the program in April and will roll it out nationally as state requirements are met.

When fully implemented, Farmers’ 15,000 agents will market the home protection policy, reinsured by Zurich U.S., to Farmers’ eight million policyholders in 31 states. Farmers currently produces $10 billion of insurance premiums annually.

Sears Home Administrative Services Co. will schedule repair and replacement services through Sears HomeCentral’s network of 15,000 employee technicians, Sears licensees, and independent service technicians.

Sears says its HomeCentral’s 35,000 associates nationwide serve more than 15 million homes annually.

Market claims

“The program is a response to consumer demands for convenience and value for managing and servicing their homes, and increased financial protection,” said Joseph Melendez, president of Sears Home Administrative Services Co.

He added that “Sears is uniquely qualified to set the standard by which other home protection insurance policies will be measured.”

Brian Cohen, president of Farmers Value Added Inc., said, “By joining forces, we can provide customers with a complete home insurance package — one that will revolutionize the way home insurance is offered today.”

“There is no service company better positioned to service this product than Sears,” said Rich Srednicki, president of Sears Home Services. “We service one of every five appliances in America — no matter where the customer purchased it or who made it.”

He called Sears “the industry leader in appliance repair, home heating, and home air conditioning and emerging in the plumbing and electrical services business.”

HomeCentral offerings, which range from appliance repair to pest control, is part of a diversification which has helped improve the retailer’s profitability over the last few years.

Sears HomeCentral was launched in 1996 by Sears Home Services, a division of Sears, Roebuck and Co. Sears Home Services calls itself “the nation’s leading repair-improvement services provider, with more than 15,000 home improvement and repair specialists serving 15 million homes annually from 800 locations.”

Farmers Insurance is the nation’s third-largest property-casualty insurer. It provides home, auto, and business insurance to more than eight million customers.

Zurich U.S. is a member of the Zurich Financial Services Group, a global leader in the financial services industry. The company concentrates its activities in four core businesses: non-life and life insurance, reinsurance, and asset management.