Lehman Brothers Collection - Contemporary Business Archives

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Twentieth-Century Business Archives

American General Insurance Company - Lehman Brothers Collection

American General Insurance Company

List of Deals

The American General Insurance Corporation was created in 1926 by Gus Sessions Wortham. It holds the distinction of being one of the nation's first multi-line insurance companies. Wortham, who was the manager of a successful insurance firm in Houston, Texas, decided to create American General after the Texas Commission of Appeals made an historic ruling that allowed insurance companies to underwrite both casualty and property insurance.

The company was quite successful from the beginning, and it earned an underwriting profit in its first year of operation. Three years later, it declared its first dividend. By 1936 the capital and surplus of the company surpassed $1 million. In 1939 the company was licensed to operate in nine states and had assets over $2 million.

In 1939 American General established a subsidiary, the American General Investment Corporation, to make acquisitions. Beginning in 1945, the company made a series of acquisitions that would greatly increase its size and variety of services. In 1945 American General acquired Seaboard Life Insurance. Through the 1960s and 1970s, American General continued to expand through acquisitions. In 1964 it purchased Maryland Casualty Company, doubling the size of American General and making it a major property and casualty insurer in all fifty states and Canada. Over the next two years it added Patriot Life Insurance Company. By 1968 American General had $1 billion in assets and began trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

In the late 1970s, American General purchased the Variable Annuity Life Insurance Company, giving it entry into the retirement savings market. Between 1982 and 1984, the corporation doubled in size with an even more aggressive acquisition policy. In 1982 it purchased NLT Corporation, the parent company of National Life and Accident Insurance Company of Nashville, as well as Credithrift Financial of Indiana and the insurance properties of Gulf United Corporation.

In 1988 American General added the consumer finance division of Manufacturers Hanover, doubling its consumer finance operations. The company continued its strategy of growth through acquisition in the 1990s by acquiring Franklin Life Insurance in 1995 for $1.2 billion, New York-based USLife Corporation in 1997 for $1.8 billion, and Western National in 1998. After these purchases, American General was the third-largest writer of individual annuities in the United States.

In 2001 American General itself was the target of an acquisition. It was acquired by American International Group (AIG) and became AIG American General.

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