Travelers Insurance Company
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In 1864, during the height of the Civil War, J. G. Batterson started the Travelers Insurance Company to insure people who traveled by rail or steamboat. In 1897, only a few years after the invention of the automobile, the Travelers Insurance Company issued the very first automobile insurance policy. Travelers auto insurance would soon become a dominant product for the insurer, but it wasn’t the company’s only first. Travelers later issued the first commercial airline policy as well as the first space travel policy.
Travelers did not merely issue Travelers auto insurance policies and pay claims. It was an innovative and proactive company – establishing the industry’s first school dedicated to the education and training of insurance agents in 1903. Safety and education have been cornerstone traits of Travelers Insurance throughout its history.
By 1904, Travelers had organized groups of safety engineers and by the mid-1930s, Travelers had initiated a revolutionary drivers’ education program. This helped reduce auto accidents, thus, helping to reduce the number of claims. By the 1950s, Travelers had developed an automobile driving simulator which it integrated into its drivers’ education program. The insurer had also established its own weather research center – and had even entered the computer age with the installation of the IBM 650 in 1956.
As insurance fraud grew more rampant, Travelers Insurance instituted the industry’s first automated fraud detection system in 1996. As the Internet became an intricate part of most people’s lives, Travelers began insuring the security of online banking for consumers in 1997. That was the same year that Travelers developed its catastrophe response vehicles. These were offices on wheels. They were self-contained remote claims offices that could roll up to the location of a disaster and begin handling customer claims on the spot.
Travelers is currently the second largest underwriter of personal insurance in the U.S. and the third largest underwriter of commercial insurance. With $25-Billion in total annual revenue and assets of nearly $110-Billion, Travelers is listed at #99 on the Fortune 500.
The company’s wide range of insurance coverage gave credence to its use of a big, bright red umbrella as its logo and corporate image beginning in the 1950s. Travelers merged with Citibank in 1998, which promptly opened the umbrella over its banking services image. The relationship didn’t work and Travelers was spun off, though Citibank kept the umbrella. In 2008, Travelers managed to buy back the rights to its famous red umbrella.