Achmea, a large Dutch insurer, to cut 4,000 jobs, 20 percent of total, over 3 years

One of the largest insurers in the Netherlands, Achmea NV, says it will cut 4,000 jobs, which represents around 20 percent of its workforce.

The company says Wednesday that customers increasingly avoid doing face-to-face business with insurance agents, preferring to shop and apply for policies on the Internet. As a result, Achmea will invest in its online services — and cut staff.

The job cuts come amid rising concerns over the Dutch economy and a rise in the unemployment rate to 7 percent from 4.4 percent in 2011. Last week Standard & Poor's stripped the country of its top triple A credit rating.

The Dutch insurance industry has struggled in recent years following a scandal after policies linked to investments were found to have excessive and opaque fees and commissions.