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Company moving headquarters to Tampa

Insurance administration company Scott Wetzel Services Inc. has had such a good experience with its claims office in Tampa that it is moving its corporate headquarters to the city.

Wetzel is planning to move its 35-person corporate headquarters from outside Seattle to Tampa by August, said executive vice president Terry Neal.

The 35 will join about 35 other Wetzel employees who now work in the company's Tampa claims office. With other planned expansions, Wetzel plans to have about 100 employees in all in the Tampa Bay area after it completes the headquarters move.

"Why Tampa? Because it has a pro-active business climate, a good housing market . . . and Florida is a very progressive state when it comes to insurance legislation," Neal said. "Also, we've had significant presence and growth with the claims office we've had here since it opened in 1976."

Wetzel is a so-called third-party administrator, which manages in-house casualty insurance programs for companies. By handling their own insurance needs, companies can usually save money that would otherwise be paid to a traditional insurance company.

In Florida, Wetzel works with about 30 companies. Nationwide, its 23 field claims offices and 365 employees work with about 370 companies, according to Neal.

Neal said he did not know how many of Wetzel's management people in Washington will move with the company to Tampa.

"I would imagine at least half or so of the positions will be filled by people recruited locally," he said.

Neal said the company is looking for office space throughout Hillsborough County for its new headquarters.

The 53-year-old company has been based in Bremerton, Wash., near Seattle, since 1971. Before then, it was based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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