History of Mercury Insurance: Corporate Timeline

George Joseph founded Mercury General Corporation on the belief he could offer consumers quality insurance products at affordable rates and combine that with top-notch customer service. Since the first policy was sold in 1962, Mercury has delivered on this promise and the company has grown to become one of the biggest, most respected insurance companies in the United States.

Today, Mercury has more than $4 billion in assets, its personal insurance products are sold in 13 states, and George Joseph, 90, still takes an active role in the company's activities as chairman of the board.

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1962 - 1971

April 1, 1962

Mercury General Corp., founded in Los Angeles by George Joseph under the principles of service, security and savings, sells its first policy. (The company began with six employees and 90 agents.)

1964

Mercury opens its first Orange County, CA office.

1966

Mercury opens its first offices in the San Fernando Valley.

1967

Mercury receives an A+ rating from global credit rating agency A.M. Best.

Mercury continues SoCal expansion with office opening in San Diego.

1968

Mercury establishes a holding company, which acquires shares of Mercury Casualty Company and makes it a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mercury General Corp.

Mercury moves into Northern California as San Jose office opens.

1970

Mercury writes $1 million in premiums during a single month.

1971

Number of Mercury agents increases to 467.

1972 - 1981

1972

Mercury sells its first homeowners policy.

1973

Mercury revenues increase for 10th consecutive year.

A subsidiary is formed for underwriting preferred risks; a network of independent agents ("Mercury's front-line underwriters") is governed by a 34-page manual consisting of rules written by George Joseph that results in rapid increasing of business in the nation's largest auto insurance market.

1974

Mercury opens its first Sacramento office.

1977

Newly created Mercury Insurance Company writes its first auto policy. Mercury Insurance Company ultimately becomes largest insurance subsidiary, producing over $1 billion in premiums in 2011.

1978

Mercury establishes insurance industry's first Special Investigations Unit (SIU) to fight insurance fraud.

1982 - 1992

Mid '80s

Mercury becomes the largest independent agency writer of private passenger auto insurance in California.

1985

Mercury converts to public ownership and an initial public offering on NASDAQ goes at $19 a share.

1986

Mercury board of directors issues $.05 quarterly dividend and has increased annual dividends every year since.

1987

Professional Insurance Agent Association names George Joseph "Company Person of the Year."

1989

Mercury begins expansion outside California; begins selling in Georgia and Illinois.

1992 - 2001

1992

Mercury employee roster expands to 1,200.

1993

Mercury expands product offerings to auto, home and umbrella coverage – Mercury's premium volume stands at $467 million; underwriting expenses (before commissions and taxes) are 5.8 percent of premiums, far exceeding the industry average of 12.1 percent.

1994

George Joseph predicts at shareholders meeting that Mercury's premium volume will double within three years and exceed $1 billion by the end of 1997.

1996

Mercury acquires American Fidelity Insurance Group, which expands Mercury's operations (as American Mercury Insurance Group) into Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas.

Mercury's common stock begins trading on the New York Stock Exchange (MCY).

1997

George Joseph's three-year growth prediction is fulfilled when Mercury doubles premium volume by the end of the year and reaches $1.08 billion in sales.

Written premiums increase 28 percent in one year.

An estimated 7.2 percent market share in California leads to Mercury insuring more than 1 million vehicles statewide.

1998

Mercury issues its first policy in Florida.

2001

Mercury enters New York and Virginia markets.

2002 - Present

2002

Mercury celebrates its 40th anniversary.

2003

Company-wide written premiums top 2.25 billion.

Mercury enters New Jersey market.

2004

Mercury increases market share to nine percent of the California market.

Mercury opens its first offices in Arizona, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania.

Underwriting profits soar to $273 million, the highest in the company's history.

2005

Mercury's total assets exceed $4 billion for the first time.

2006

Net Premiums written continue to grow exceeding the $3 billion mark.

2007

Mercury rings the opening bell on the NYSE, celebrating 10 years of listing on the exchange.

2008

Year-end stats include: $4 billion in assets; 4,700 independent agents and brokers in 13 states; $1.5 billion in shareholders' equity.

Web-based point of sale system (MercuryFirst) launches to simplify life for Mercury agents.

2009

Mercury becomes one of only 10 companies named to the Forbes.com list of America's Most Trustworthy Companies three years in a row (2007, 2008 and 2009).

Mercury purchases AIS (Auto Insurance Specialists), the nation's largest independent insurance agency.

2010

The Mercury Insurance Open debuts as the company becomes title sponsor of the women's pro tennis tournament at La Costa Resort and Spa near San Diego.

2011

Mercury launches Buy Button project in Georgia, the company's first direct-to-consumer sales effort.

Mercury launches "Don't Text and Drive" public service campaign at the Mercury Insurance Open with Womens Tennis Association stars Daniela Hantuchova and Agnieszka Radwanska.


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