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State Auto announces new leadership structure

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COLUMBUS, OHIO – January 17, 2011 – State Auto Financial Corporation (NASDAQ:STFC) and State Automobile Mutual Insurance Company today announced the retirement of Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Mark A. Blackburn. He is no longer serving as chief operating officer and has resigned as a director of State Automobile Mutual, and will serve in an advisory role until his November 2011 retirement.

Blackburn joined State Auto in 1999 to lead the companies’ reinsurance operation after holding executive-level positions with Grange Mutual Casualty Group and General Reinsurance Corporation. He was appointed chief operating officer in 2006.

Rather than appoint a new chief operating officer, the executive leadership team reporting to President, Chairman and CEO Bob Restrepo has been restructured to broaden their responsibilities.

“We’ve built a flatter, leaner management structure,” said Restrepo, “to build on our strategic foundation of people and technology and implement our business strategies focused on underwriting profitability, rational growth, enterprise risk management and capital management.”

  • Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Steven E. English will assume responsibility for enterprise risk management, business continuity and oversight of Risk Evaluation and Design LLC, State Auto’s affiliate in the alternative risk transfer market. In his broadened role, English will work to successfully develop strategies and integrated action plans to improve State Auto’s enterprise risk and capital management programs.
  • Senior Vice President and Chief Sales Officer Clyde H. Fitch will assume responsibility for middle market sales and Capital City Intermediaries, State Auto’s new managing general agency that will market products and programs of the Rockhill Insurance Group to State Auto’s independent agency plant.
  • Vice President of Standard Lines Joel E. Brown, previously Vice President, Director of Personal Insurance, assumes responsibility for all standard lines underwriting and product management. His current responsibility for personal lines and farm insurance will be broadened to include all standard commercial lines
  • Chief Operating Officer of Specialty Insurance Jessica Buss, previously Chief Operating Officer of Rockhill Insurance Group, will be responsible for completing the integration of the business operations of Rockhill Insurance Group and RTW, a monoline workers compensation company, into State Auto. The underwriting, operations and actuarial functions of Rockhill and RTW will report directly to Buss.
  • Vice President of Operations Lyle D. Rhodebeck will assume responsibility for Information Technology, which will continue to be led by Vice President of IT Doug Allen.
  • Vice President and Chief Strategy and Organization Effectiveness Officer Lorraine M. Siegworth will remain responsible for human resources, benefits and compensation, corporate communication and professional development. Siegworth will also now serve on point for State Auto’s marketing and branding strategies.

“I’m tremendously energized by our team and excited about State Auto’s future,” said Restrepo. “I have every confidence that we have the momentum underway that will restore State Auto’s traditional underwriting profitability and sustain our newfound growth.”

State Auto Financial Corporation, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, is a super regional property and casualty insurance holding company. The company is proud to be a Trusted Choice® company partner. STFC stock is traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market, which represents the top third of all NASDAQ listed companies.

The insurance subsidiaries of State Auto Financial Corporation are part of the State Auto Group.  The State Auto Group is rated A+ (Superior) by the A.M. Best Company and consists of State Automobile Mutual, State Auto Property & Casualty, State Auto Ohio, State Auto Wisconsin, State Auto Florida, Milbank, Farmers Casualty, Meridian Security, Meridian Citizens Mutual, Beacon National, Beacon Lloyds, Patrons Mutual and Litchfield Mutual Fire. Effective January 1, 2011, the Rockhill Insurance Group (consisting of Rockhill Insurance, Plaza Insurance, American Compensation and Bloomington Compensation) joined the State Auto reinsurance pool and became members of the State Auto Group. The Rockhill Insurance Group’s current rating of A- (Excellent) is under review by the A.M. Best Company with positive implications as a consequence of its joining the State Auto reinsurance pool. Additional information on State Auto Financial Corporation can be found online at http://www.StateAuto.com.

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