Allstate Timeline

when did allstate insurance start

On a fall morning in 1930, as the 7:28 commuter train headed for downtown Chicago, a suggestion was made to Sears, Roebuck & Co. President and Board Chairman General Robert E. Wood that Sears should start an auto insurance company and sell insurance by mail. It was the beginning of something big… It was the Great Depression. Many long-term businesses were closing their doors at an alarming rate. General Wood, however, recognized the automobile was fast becoming a mainstay of American life, and an automobile insurance company was an opportunity to extend Sears services to the public. After undertaking an exhaustive study on insurance issues, he convinced the Sears Board of Directors to finance this insurance company with $700,000.

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On May 17, William Lehnertz, a tool and die maker from Aurora, Ill. becomes Allstate’s first policyholder. He pays $41.60 for a 12-month policy on his 1930 Studebaker.

Allstate pays its first claim on the spot when an insured walks into the one-room Allstate office holding an auto door handle broken off in a theft attempt.

By year-end, Allstate has 4,217 policies in force, a premium volume of $118,323 and 20 employees. The company suffers a $76,000 loss for the year.


At the Chicago World’s Fair, Richard Roskam becomes Allstate’s first agent when he sets up a card table in the Sears exhibit and is swamped with applications.


The change in sales methods from direct-mail to Allstate-agent representation begins with the opening of the first Allstate sales location in a Chicago Sears store.


Allstate hires its first full-time salaried claim adjuster.


Allstate startles the insurance industry by tailoring auto rates by age, mileage and use of car. The plan is so popular the industry follows suit.

Written premium is $3.7 million with 113,472 policyholders and 529 employees. Allstate receives 25,461 claims for the year.

Financial responsibility laws spread across the country, making it both practical and wise for car owners to purchase bodily injury and property damage liability insurance. World War II brings gasoline rationing and a halt to auto production. Fewer people are on the road.


Allstate develops a series of training courses for women agents to replace men on military leave. Women also begin handling claims.


Allstate’s post–war planning committee predicts Allstate will write $13 million in premium volume by 1949. Written premium in 1949 actually reaches more than $45 million.


Allstate creates the “Illustrator Policy.” It uses simpler language and illustrations so customers can more easily understand policy language and coverage.


Written premium is $45.3 million, with 708,763 policyholders and more than 2,800 employees.

Expanding and growing rapidly, Allstate Insurance Company offers a “Full Circle of Protection” in most states by late in the decade. In 1952, Allstate moves beyond auto insurance into personal liability insurance. Other products on the horizon include life, health and commercial insurance.


Davis W. Ellis, general sales manager, creates the “You’re In Good Hands With Allstate slogan, illustrated with a drawing of a pair of hands cradling a car.


The Allstate Foundation is established to partner with nonprofit organizations to help improve the quality of life in communities across the country.

Allstate opens its first drive-in claim office, revolutionizing the way auto claims are handled.


Allstate begins work with high school drivers education, teaching thousands of teachers and millions of young drivers.


Residential fire insurance is introduced.


Network television advertising is launched by sponsoring “Playhouse 90.” Ed Reimers, an actor, becomes the Allstate television spokesperson for 22 years.

On September 3, Allstate Life Insurance Company sells policy #000001, a mortgage cancellation policy, to Dale and Norma Jean Huddlestun of West Liberty, Ill. By 1963, Allstate Life reaches $1 billion of insurance in force, faster than any previous company.


Allstate establishes a catastrophe plan that brings large numbers of claim specialists into a catastrophe area immediately following a disaster.

Allstate becomes the first major insurance company to offer premium discounts specifically to owners of increasingly popular small cars.

Property-liability written premium is $438.6 million with 5.3 million policyholders and 14,633 employees.

Allstate moves its home office to Northbrook, Illinois.


Allstate Enterprises, Inc. is established, offering auto, boat and RV financing, savings and loans, mortgage banking and mutual fund management.

Allstate’s Good Driver Plan is introduced in many states, offering good drivers the lowest rate for their particular driver classification.


Allstate Motor Club is created — the first truly national service of its kind in the United States.


After 11 years of successful operations in Canada, Allstate forms Allstate Insurance Company of Canada and Allstate Life Insurance Company of Canada.


Allstate forms the Allstate Research and Planning Center in Menlo Park, Calif. to help research markets and customer expectations.


Allstate begins working with the government and automakers on auto passenger safety, including seat belts and airbags.

Allstate offers a Business Umbrella package, providing total insurance protection for commercial businesses.


Property liability written premium is $1.47 billion with 11.4 million policies in force and more than 30,000 employees.

Allstate looks at doing business internationally and takes a strong stance on consumer safety.


Allstate begins an awareness program encouraging automakers to produce “tougher cars”, including sturdier bumpers of uniform height. The company continues its efforts to promote auto passenger safety via seat belts, air bags and anti-drunk-driving campaigns.


Allstate offers greater flexibility by serving customers considered high risk through the formation of the Allstate Indemnity Company.


Allstate enters the Japanese market (life insurance) through a joint venture with Sears and Seibu Retail.


The “Helping Hands” Program is created and mobilizes more than 75 percent of Allstate employees to volunteer their time and talents for community causes.

Tech-Cor, Inc. commences operations for technical research and auto/home repair training. It also handles a great deal of salvage and auto reclamation for Allstate.


Northbrook Property and Casualty Insurance Company begins operations as a new commercial subsidiary of Allstate Insurance Company, offering a broad range of products to medium-to-large-size commercial risks, contractors, manufacturers and retailers.


Property liability written premium is $4.99 billion with 18.3 million policies in force and almost 40,000 employees.

By the end of 1980, Allstate has grown dramatically, including 31 regional offices, 219

claim-service offices, 687 auto-inspection stations and 2,720 sales/service centers.


The IBM 8100 system is introduced, enabling Allstate employees across the country to communicate electronically.


Allstate becomes a part of the Sears Financial Network: a one-stop financial services concept that features Allstate, Coldwell Banker Realty and Dean Witter Financial Brokers under one roof at Sears stores.

Allstate announces a National Urban Policy and becomes full partners with Neighborhood Housing Services in several cities.


By year-end, Allstate employs the industry’s largest claim staff — more than 12,500 strong.

A new flexible type of life insurance policy is offered called “Universal Life,” providing savings and investment opportunities.


Allstate introduces the Neighborhood Office Agent program to make agents more accessible to customers.


Hurricane Hugo — the largest catastrophe to date — sets the standard for CAT losses, costing the insurance industry $4.2 billion.

Property-liability written premium is $13.5 billion with 27.2 million policies in force and 55,789 employees.

Allstate takes a hard look at itself and decides to focus on its core competencies. Allstate becomes a 100 percent publicly owned company and sets a course for the future.


The Neighborhood Exclusive Agent contract is available to agents, giving them the opportunity to be independent contractors for Allstate, managing their own businesses.


Hurricane Andrew hits Florida, causing $16 billion in industrywide, insured losses. At the time, it is the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history. This single event causes the industry to rethink the way it writes business in risk-prone areas.


Allstate goes public when Sears sells 19.8 percent of the company, making Allstate’s initial public offering the largest to date in U.S. history.


The Northridge, Calif. earthquake rocks the insurance industry with a $10 billion loss.

Claim Core Process Redesign is introduced, with key claim processes targeted for redesign to help better serve customers and manage losses.


Sears spins off its remaining ownership of Allstate to Sears shareholders, making Allstate an independent, 100 percent publicly held corporation.


Allstate launches its consumer Web site —

P–CCSO (Property–Casualty Claim Service Organization) is launched, creating a single claim service organization for all Allstate property–casualty business.


The Allstate Federal Savings Bank is formed to help position Allstate competitively in the financial services arena.


Allstate expands its market reach through the acquisition of CNA Personal Insurance (later renamed Encompass Insurance), American Heritage Life Investment Corporation (later renamed Allstate Workplace Division) and an alliance with Putnam Investments.

“The Good HandsSM Network” becomes a reality with a total of 15 states scheduled for rollout during 2000. Acquisitions and alliances of the previous year begin to add revenue and fuel growth. The new Allstate Life and Savings reorganizes to better compete in the rapidly changing financial services market place.


In May The Good HandsSM Network goes live for the first time in Oregon. Customers are able to purchase auto insurance on the Internet, over the phone through Customer Information Centers or through an agent.

Allstate Life becomes Allstate Financial. The name reflects an expansion of traditional life insurance products to include savings and investment products.

Working Woman names Allstate top company for Executive Women.


Allstate acquires Sterling Collision Centers Inc. a leader in the auto body repair industry.

Allstate announces that it will be the Official Home and Auto Insurance Sponsor of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City and the 2002 and 2004 U.S. Olympic Teams.


Continuing to execute its strategy to become broader in financial services, Allstate ends the year with nearly 7,000 personal financial representatives (more than half of Allstate exclusive agencies) licensed to sell a broad range of financial services and products. They issue more than $1.6 billion in new premiums and deposits – a total greater than 1999, 2000 and 2001 combined.


Allstate announces an agreement to become the Official Home and Auto Insurance sponsor for USA Basketball and its Athens–bound 2004 U.S. men’s and women’s basketball teams. Allstate and USA Basketball also announce plans to host a series of 10 youth basketball clinics at select Boys & Girls Clubs.

Allstate is recognized as a Top Company for Diversity, African–Americans and Recruitment and Retention by DiversityInc.

The United States Olympic Committee and Allstate announce the return of the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame Presented by Allstate, which had been inactive since 1992. The Class of 2004 is announced during a special induction ceremony on July 1.

For the 14th consecutive year, Working Mother Magazine honors Allstate as a top company for working moms in its annual list of the “100 Best Companies for Working Mothers.”


Allstate signs a multiyear NASCAR sponsorship agreement, becoming the official insurance sponsor of NASCAR, with the “Allstate 400 at the Brickyard” as its cornerstone.

For the eighth consecutive year, Allstate is recognized as one of the “50 Best Companies for Latinas to Work” by LATINA Style magazine.

Hurricane Katrina strikes the Gulf Coast, becoming the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history with estimated industrywide, insured losses of nearly $40 billion. Allstate employees and agencies and The Allstate Foundation together contribute more than $6 million to help thousands of victims rebuild their lives.

InformationWeek names Allstate one of the nation’s top 50 innovative users of

information technology.

Allstate is ranked as the second most-admired company in the Property & Casualty industry in the 2005 Fortune magazine Most Admired Companies.

With Allstate Your Choice Auto Insurance, Allstate revolutionizes car insurance in America, breaking the mold of products traditionally offered by many insurers with more choices, innovative features and enhanced rewards for safe drivers.

The Allstate Foundation launches the SAFE HANDS Domestic Violence Program

to address economic challenges of domestic violence survivors. The Foundation also launches a multiyear teen driving program to help curb the number-one killer of teens: motor-vehicle crashes.

Allstate initiates, a broad coalition that seeks to better prepare and protect Americans from natural disasters.


Institutional Investor ranks Allstate first in a survey rating the effectiveness of corporate investor relations among insurance companies in the property-casualty sector.

The National Association of Female Executives recognizes Allstate as a leading company for executive women to work at in 2006.

Allstate announces a multiyear sponsorship agreement with the FOX Broadcasting Company and the Sugar Bowl Committee to become the title sponsor of the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.

On April 17, Allstate celebrates its 75th anniversary.


Category: Insurance

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