NU Online News Service, April 4, 3:39 p.m. EDT
The Hanover Insurance Group, Inc. is kicking-off a year-long celebration of its 160th anniversary with the sounding of the closing bell of the New York Stock Exchange.
The bell will be rung today by Chief Executive Officer Fred Eppinger. He will be joined on the platform by Marita Zuraitis, president of The Hanover’s Property and Casualty subsidiaries, as well as the company’s executive team.
“The Hanover has a fascinating history,” says Eppinger in a statement. “We have withstood the many tests of time.”
Hanover was founded in 1852 in New York. The Worcester, Mass.-based insurer first provided fire insurance for businesses and homeowners through its single independent agent, S.S. Coe of Cleveland. In its first year, the company underwrote $2.5 million in risk.
The Hanover weathered both the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and the Boston Fire the following year, catastrophes which closed down 70 other insurers and which rank as the third and sixth most costly catastrophe losses in American history.
Company representatives say that the firm weathered the Great Depression without laying off employees or decreasing salaries, and that it emerged from the market crash better-capitalized than before the economic collapse.
In an interview with NU Online, Vice President of Corporate and Commercial Marketing Jim Griesing attributes this to maintaining wide product distribution and having held a surplus of capital, factors which helped it through the economic crisis of 2007.
“We weren’t dependent on any one sector of the economy,” he says. “This preparedness came into play during the 2008 market crash, when we relied upon conservative investments. We were the only company at the time [of the mid-2000’s crash] to be upgraded by Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s, and A.M. Best.”
The Hanover was present through important moments of insurance history, such as writing the first auto policy in Michigan in 1915, later selling an auto insurance policy to Babe Ruth. It developed an insurance product for the still-experimental airline industry in the 1930s in response to the need to insure military planes.
The company now ranks among the top 25 property and casualty insurers in the U.S, and is listed by Forbes as one of America’s 100 Most Trusted Companies.
The Hanover, which according to Griesing had “lost its way as a company in the early 90s” and receded from the public’s eye has “come full circle.” Underscoring the company’s re-emergence, he notes the company has nearly doubled its business from $2.4 billion in written premiums in 2004 to $3.9 billion in 2011.