The Complete History and Overview of the National Fire Insurance Company of Hartford

The National Fire Insurance Company of Hartford has a long and storied history as one of the oldest insurance providers in the United States. For over 150 years, this iconic company has been protecting homes, businesses, cars and more for customers across the country.

Below is a detailed look at the origins, evolution, leadership, products, strengths and future outlook of the National Fire Insurance Company of Hartford:

Origins and Early History

The National Fire Insurance Company of Hartford was originally founded way back in 1859. It was started by a group of local businessmen in Hartford, Connecticut who saw a need for a reliable fire insurance provider in the growing industrial economy.

Some key facts about the early days:

  • Founded in 1859 in Hartford, CT
  • Original name was the National Fire Insurance Company
  • First president was James Goodwin
  • Capitalized with $250,000 at founding
  • Wrote first fire policy on October 1, 1859

In the company’s first 20 years, it expanded rapidly by selling fire insurance to factories, mills, stores, churches and homes throughout New England. The business grew quickly as American industry boomed during the Gilded Age in the late 1800s.

Leadership Through the Decades

As the National Fire Insurance Company entered the 20th century, it was led by several key figures who shaped the future of the company:

  • Alfred Bliss – President from 1905 to 1919, guided the company through challenges of the early 1900s like the San Francisco earthquake.

  • G.J. Capen – President from 1919 to 1928, focused on expanding nationwide by opening offices across the Midwest and West Coast.

  • R.L. Ives – President from 1928 to 1948, led the company through the Great Depression and World War II, when fire damage soared.

  • A.N. Curry – President from 1948 to 1958, oversaw a period of growth as the economy and housing market expanded after WWII.

  • Robert Taylor – President from 1958 to 1970, enhanced the company’s reputation for quality products and good service.

  • John Uricchio – Chairman and CEO during the 1980s and 90s, pushed the company to modernize products and technology.

Major Milestones and Product Evolution

The National Fire Insurance Company of Hartford has adapted over time to meet the changing insurance needs of American consumers. Some notable milestones and products in its evolution include:

  • 1895 – Expanded beyond fire insurance by adding property, marine, tornado and liability insurance lines.

  • 1903 – Developed the innovative barn plan policy for farmowners insurance tailored to agricultural needs.

  • 1922 – Launched a fidelity and surety bond division to serve commercial clients.

  • 1938 – Pioneered the comprehensive dwelling policy, covering property, liability and theft.

  • 1954 – Introduced a package homeowner’s policy with broad coverage for homes.

  • 1965 – Began offering group and individual health insurance plans.

  • 1987 – Developed computerized auto insurance quoting and launched 24/7 claims service.

  • 1996 – Added online policy management and became one of the first insurers to establish a website.

  • 2015 – Launched Hartford Mobile, an app to manage your policy, file claims and pay bills.

Merger with ITT Hartford and Later Years

In 1970, the National Fire Insurance Company of Hartford merged with ITT Hartford, part of the International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation. The two companies had a longstanding partnership dating back to the early 1900s.

The merger formed ITT-Hartford, one of the largest property and casualty insurers in America. While losing its standalone identity, National Fire remained a key division within the newly merged organization.

Throughout the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, ITT-Hartford continued to grow the National Fire brand and its book of business. The company expanded into Europe and Asia and became a leading insurer worldwide.

In 2019, ITT-Hartford once again rebranded back to The Hartford. Today, the National Fire Insurance Company remains the symbolic foundation of The Hartford and its legacy in the insurance industry. It is the oldest division in The Hartford family.

National Fire Insurance Products

As part of The Hartford, the National Fire brand and division today provides a wide range of leading insurance products:

  • Home Insurance – Comprehensive policies for homeowners, renters and condos. Coverage options for dwellings, personal property, liability, flood and more.

  • Auto Insurance – Policies for personal vehicles, ATVs, RVs and specialty cars. Options include liability, collision, comprehensive, uninsured motorist, roadside assistance and rideshare coverage.

  • Business Insurance – Extensive policies for small and mid-size businesses. Property, liability, commercial auto, workers comp, business owners policies and more.

  • Farm Insurance – Specialized coverage for farms, ranches, equine and livestock. Includes property, liability, equipment breakdown and workers comp policies.

  • Life Insurance – Term life, whole life, universal life and retirement protection products. Also includes disability and long term care insurance.

  • Group Benefits – Employee benefit plans including health, dental, vision, life and disability insurance. Products for groups of all sizes.

Strengths and Competitive Advantages

The National Fire Insurance Company delivers value through its financial strength, consumer focus and breadth of insurance products:

  • Strong Financial Ratings – Consistently earns excellent ratings from A.M. Best (A+), Standard & Poor’s (A+) and Moody’s (A1). Shows ability to pay claims.

  • Top-Tier Customer Service – Provides award-winning service through local agents, claims specialists and customer care centers. Focuses on fast, hassle-free resolution.

  • Broad Product Portfolio – Offers extensive personal and commercial policies to meet diverse insurance needs for any risk profile.

  • Stability and Reputation – As a 159-year old insurer, National Fire is viewed as an established and trustworthy leader in the insurance space. Maintains loyal multi-generational customers.

  • Innovation – Continues to enhance digital capabilities with easy online services, apps and smart home tech integrations. But retains local agent support.

The Future for the National Fire Brand

With more than 150 years of history in the books, where does the iconic National Fire Insurance Company go from here?

As part of The Hartford, National Fire appears well-positioned for continued success and stability into the future. Strategies focus on:

  • Maintaining above-average financial strength and performance compared to competitors.

  • Leveraging predictive data analytics to price policies competitively and identify growth opportunities.

  • Expanding partnerships with independent agents, brokers and banks.

  • Reaching emerging segments like millennials, small business owners and middle-market companies.

  • Investing in digital technologies to modernize customer experience.

  • Diversifying products for personal lines, commercial lines and group benefits.

With its strong legacy, National Fire Insurance looks to maintain leadership while evolving for a new generation of policyholders. This household name remains committed to protecting what matters most for its customers.

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Who is Hartford insurance owned by?

The Hartford is owned by its shareholders, as it is a publicly traded company. The biggest shareholders are The Vanguard GroupnBlackRocknState Street Corp which have a combined ownership stake of almost 25%, according to public records, as of Q1 2020.

Is the Hartford insurance good?

The Hartford has an A+ rating from the BBB and an A+ financial strength rating from AM Best. Our research team rates The Hartford auto insurance 7.8 out of 10.0 overall because it isn’t available to everyone and offers rates slightly above average.

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