Celebrating 75 Years, Quirk & Company Looks to 100 and Beyond

By Robert C. Quirk | September 5, 2005

As we celebrate our 75th anniversary year, reflections on the past seem to be in order. We have a long and rich history in the insurance industry, particularly in Texas. I believe that Quirk & Company is one oldest remaining managing general agencies in the country with family controlling ownership still intact.

W. H. Quirk, Sr., my grandfather, started in the insurance business in Chicago, Ill. with the Continental of New York. He came to Texas in 1909 to work for the old Roulett Rating Bureau, later the State Fire Insurance Division. Mr. Quirk subsequently worked for the Seinsheimer operation in Galveston, the Republic Insurance Company of Dallas, and as state agent for Northwestern National Insurance Co.. He brought the Northwestern National to the Hornberger-Beckman General Agency, which he joined the in the early 1920s. He was special agent for Hornberger-Beckmann until he started his own general agency, W. H. Quirk & Company.

The company was founded in San Antonio on June 1, 1930, first contracting with Southern Fire Insurance Company of St. Louis, Mo., which shortly thereafter became one of the Home Insurance Company of New York’s group of companies. In the beginning our contracted companies were all property insurers. In 1941, when the name Quirk & Company was assumed, W. H. Quirk, Sr. brought his two sons–W. H. (Bill) Quirk, Jr. and Frank J. Quirk–into the ownership of the general agency. Both had been associated with the company off and on from 1930.

In the 1930s until the late 1940s, the general agency prospered with such fine companies as the Gibraltar Fire and Marine Insurance Company and the City of New York Insurance Co., both Home of New York Group companies, Lafayette Fire Insurance Company, Central Fire Insurance Co. of the Insurance of North America Group, Federal Union Insurance Co. of Royal Globe Group, Sentinel Fire Insurance Co. of the Springfield fire and Marine Group, and Atlanta Home Underwriters of the Fireman’s Fund Group.

In 1939 the agency contracted with its first casualty company, The Western Casualty and Surety Co. of Kansas, and its associate company The Western Fire Insurance Co. Later came a contract with the United States Fidelity and Guaranty Co., and in 1953 with the Employers Group of Boston. The Western Companies, the USF&G and the Employers of Boston were all pillars of strength with the general agency until 1969 when our standard business was sold to Aetna Insurance.

Since 1969, when we were left with three employees, we have grown to a firm of 55, operating not just in Texas, but the surrounding states, the Pacific Northwest and New England, as an excess and surplus lines, specialty wholesaler and MGA. I rejoined the company in 1974 as its manager, after graduating from law school. I had been working with Quirk & Company at various times, both full and part time since 1961.

In 1980, San Antonio Reinsurance Co. was formed by the Quirk family and friends, to participate in the programs of Quirk & Company. Over the years San Antonio Reinsurance Co. has prospered and is still used as a vehicle for risk bearing by Quirk & Company.

One of the first items on my agenda was to increase the number of markets with whom we were dealing. One of my first visits was to London, and subsequently we contracted with Lloyd’s Underwriters to bind and issue several types of first party business. We are proud of the fact that Lloyd’s Underwriters have made money on this contract every year for more than 30 years. Lloyd’s remains our largest single market. Other important markets include Western World Insurance Group, Nautilus Insurance Co. (W. R. Berkely Corp.), Markel Southwest Underwriters, National Indemnity (Berkshire-Hathaway), Firemans Fund Insurance Group, Chubb & Son, U. S. Liability Group (Berkshire-Hathaway), and United National Insurance.

We have been successful for 75 years due the continuing commitment to our customers, while exercising the principles of security, service, integrity and stability. This commitment will enable our firm to continue to grow and prosper into our 100th anniversary and beyond.

Robert C. Quirk is president of Quirk & Company, a family owned, full service, MGA/surplus lines wholesaler based in San Antonio, Texas.

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Insurance Journal West September 5, 2005
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