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.)
Mercury opens its first Orange County, CA office.
Mercury opens its first offices in the San Fernando Valley.
Mercury receives an A+ rating from global credit rating agency A.M. Best.
Mercury continues SoCal expansion with office opening in San Diego.
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.
Mercury writes $1 million in premiums during a single month.
Number of Mercury agents increases to 467.
1972 - 1981
Mercury sells its first homeowners policy.
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.
Mercury opens its first Sacramento office.
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.
Mercury establishes insurance industry's first Special Investigations Unit (SIU) to fight insurance fraud.
1982 - 1992
Mercury becomes the largest independent agency writer of private passenger auto insurance in California.
Mercury converts to public ownership and an initial public offering on NASDAQ goes at $19 a share.
Mercury board of directors issues $.05 quarterly dividend and has increased annual dividends every year since.
Professional Insurance Agent Association names George Joseph "Company Person of the Year."
Mercury begins expansion outside California; begins selling in Georgia and Illinois.
1992 - 2001
Mercury employee roster expands to 1,200.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Mercury issues its first policy in Florida.
Mercury enters New York and Virginia markets.
2002 - Present
Mercury celebrates its 40th anniversary.
Company-wide written premiums top 2.25 billion.
Mercury enters New Jersey market.
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.
Mercury's total assets exceed $4 billion for the first time.
Net Premiums written continue to grow exceeding the $3 billion mark.
Mercury rings the opening bell on the NYSE, celebrating 10 years of listing on the exchange.
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.
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.
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.
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.