Unitrin parent pioneered specialty insurance for WWII veterans
DALLAS, TEXAS- April 20, 2006 — Between 1946 and 1964, over 75 million Americans, who collectively became known as the baby boomers, were born. The first group of the baby boom generation turns 60 this year. The group includes current President George Bush, former President Bill Clinton, Cher, baseball Hall-of-Famer Reggie Jackson, singer Barry Manilow, and director Steven Spielberg. And let’s not forget Financial Indemnity Company!
“It really isn’t coincidental that FIC is also turning 60 this year,” said Ed Cimini, Sr. VP and Actuary. “The company was formed to address the insurance needs of our returning World War II veterans, who were settling into civilian careers, buying homes and cars, and starting families. However, because of their age and lack of driving experience, many could not purchase automobile insurance from the standard carriers.”
FIC was actually incorporated in December of 1945, but didn’t sell its first policy until 1946. Shortly after FIC began doing business, the original owners sold the company to Kenneth Vaughn, who served as FIC’s President until 1968, the year that Vaughn sold the company to Teledyne. In 1990, Teledyne spun FIC and the remaining insurance entities off into the newly-formed Unitrin holding company.
“Vaughn was quite an entrepreneur. Before buying FIC, he had already achieved success in the real estate and construction businesses, and, along with his brother, he owned a fairly large automobile dealership,” Cimini recalled. “In later years, he started a classic car restoration business in Santa Monica with customers from all over the world.”
One of the first changes which Vaughn made was to change the name of the company, which was originally known as Associated Veterans’ Aircraft and Automotive Insurance Company. Although the company’s name recognized those returning servicemen, Vaughn thought that the moniker was a bit cumbersome, and he never planned to insure aircraft. Vaughn initially filed a name using the word “pioneer” in the title, but he was unable to gain approval and eventually settled on Financial Indemnity Company.
In Unitrin’s 1997 Report to Shareholders, the histories of FIC and the specialty automobile market were chronicled. It wasn’t just the returning servicemen who sparked the growth of the specialty automobile market. During the war, gasoline and tires were rationed. Not surprisingly, insurers’ war time claim frequencies were low. After the war, with the US economy beginning to boom, the standard insurers, whose underlying frequencies were soaring, had to tighten their underwriting criteria. The newly-formed companies, such as FIC, helped fill the void.
One of Unitrin Specialty’s other companies was also formed during the post-war period. Unitrin County Mutual was founded as Northern County Mutual Insurance Company in March, 1949. As many of the agents know, the company was known as Charter County Mutual from August, 1997 until December, 2003, when the present name was adopted.
The other two Specialty companies aren’t quite as old. Charter Indemnity Company, which was originally known as Secured Insurance Corporation, was founded in June, 1979. Alpha Property & Casualty is only six months younger, having been founded in December of that same year.
“With the emphasis on the Unitrin name as part of our branding campaign, we sometimes forget that the statutory entities each have a rich history,” Cimini pondered. “FIC and UCM have both been around long enough to witness many changes in our business. Of course, so have all the baby boomers!”
Unitrin Specialty is part of the Unitrin, Inc., family, a Chicago-based financial services company with $9 billion in assets and 75 years of experience. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, Unitrin Specialty provides personal and commercial specialty automobile insurance to individuals and businesses through more than 8,500 independent agents/brokers in 23 states. Unitrin member companies are rated “excellent” by both A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s Rating Services. Independent Agents can review Unitrin products and services at www.unitrinspecialty.com.
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