Insurtechs are disrupting the market, but insurance giants still rule the roost. And that’s hardly surprising given the age of the industry.
The North American insurance industry began in 1850, when the Franklin Health Assurance Company of Massachusetts offered the first accident and health insurance.
In 1752, first insurance company in the US was born and was called the Philadelphia Contributionship for the Insurance of Houses from Loss by Fire.
By 1851 the industry was well established as New Hampshire created the first formal agency to regulate insurance in the US, and in 1861 First war-risk insurance policies were issued, written by life insurance companies during the Civil War.
Since then, the industry has boomed and according to the latest data, is worth an incredible $9trn.
05: Marsh & McLennan
Industry: Risk management and reinsurance brokers
The global professional services firm, Marsh & McLennan is headquartered in New York and was founded by Henry Marsh, and Donald McLennon in 1906. The company is now one of the world’s biggest insurance agencies and has expanded through acquisition and marketplace demand.
The reinsurance firm Guy Carpenter & Company was acquired in 1923 a year after its founding by Guy Carpenter, the first in a series of operating companies that now total four; namely Marsh, Guy Carpenter, Mercer, and Oliver Wyman.
Industry: Property & Casualty Insurance
In 1853, or so the story goes, Alexander Wilkin and a group of 16 fellow businessmen founded the St Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Company. They started the insurance enterprise to deal with the increasing threat of fire in the city of St Paul, Minnesota, US.
By 1865, the demand for some sort of ‘journey’ cover was becoming clear, so J.G. Batterson and nine others from the group formed The Travelers Insurance Company “for the purpose of insuring travellers against loss of life or personal injury, initially just while journeying by railway or steamboat”.
In 1897, the requirements had grown further and Travelers issued the first ever private automobile insurance policy in the US.
The company’s modest beginnings in the American Midwest have grown to a group with assets totalling $105bn
Industry: Car insurance
Founded in: 1937
In 1937, lawyers and Cleveland natives, Joseph Lewis and Jack Green decided they wanted to provide started vehicle owners with security and protection after they realised the market was massively underserved. They started the Progressive Mutual Insurance Company.
By 1956, the Progressive Casualty Insurance Company was founded as an offshoot, and became first specialty underwriters of nonstandard insurance. The company had 40 employees and $2.6mn in written premium. They also launched the Safe Driver Plan, in Ohio, by offering low rates to drivers without accidents, and set an industry policy standard.
Progressive is one of the leading providers of car insurance in the United States. The company insures motorcycles, boats, RVs, and commercial vehicles and provides home insurance through select companies.
Industry: Auto and insurance and
The idea for the company allegedly was conceived during a game of bridge on a commuter train in 1930 when insurance broker Carl L. Odell suggested to his neighbour, who just so happened to be Sears, Roebuck & Co. President and Board Chairman, General Robert E. Wood, that they should sell car insurance by direct mail. The idea appealed to Wood, and he passed the proposal to the Sears board of directors, which approved it.
The company has been providing property and casualty insurance to its customers for 80 years. Allstate is North America’s largest publicly held personal lines insurer. Based in Northfield Township, Illinois, it offers individual auto and property insurance together with business and commercial insurance as well as an array of associated insurance products. Allstate operates 19 companies in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and India.
Industry: Life insurance
MetLife was founded by William P Stweart on March 24, 1868 and began selling a small number of policies from that date. It’s operations began before the telephone was invented and electric lights were still uncommon. The population of the United States was approximately 37 million, and there were 37 states in the country.
MetLife is among the largest global providers of insurance, annuities, and employee benefit programs, with 90 million customers in over 60 countries. The firm was founded on March 24, 1868. MetLife ranked No. 43 in the 2018 Fortune 500 list of the largest US corporations by total revenue.