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The History of The Hartford
For more than 200 years, The Hartford has helped people prepare for the unexpected, protect what is important to them and prevail through life’s challenges and opportunities. Our success comes from our commitment to doing the right thing, while adapting and reinventing to remain relevant and indispensable to our customers.
Throughout our history, countless businesses, institutions and individuals have turned to our company for protection.
Our First Century
In 1810, we started as a fire insurance company, employing our own fire department to protect customers. Fifteen years later, we wrote the first insurance policy for an institution of higher learning – Yale University.
In 1835, we proved ourselves different from other insurance companies. After a fire destroyed New York’s financial district, people learned that insurance companies were walking away from their claims. Eliphalet Terry, then president of The Hartford Fire Insurance Company, called a meeting of the directors when news of the fire reached Hartford; they pledged their personal fortunes to help pay the claims. This bolstered the people and businesses of New York, allowing the rebuilding process to begin. It also served to bolster the economy of a growing nation by showing business people, leaders and citizens in all States that there was an insurance company able to protect their property and stand-by claims, no matter how large they grew or the size of the disaster.
Confidence in The Hartford and with insurance grew. In fact, in 1861 when President-elect Abraham Lincoln was preparing to move to Washington, D.C. to serve his first term, even he purchased a policy from The Hartford Fire Insurance Company to protect his family’s home and property in Illinois.
We continued to bolster a growing American economy by covering claims and aiding in recovery after massive catastrophes. In 1871, The Hartford paid all of its claims after a fire ripped through more than 3 square miles of Chicago businesses and homes. In 1906, almost 500 city blocks in San Francisco were destroyed as an earthquake toppled the city and fires burned for several days. The Hartford responded by paying over $11 million in damage claims – the largest of any insurance company involved in the disaster. With each of these disasters, the people of the United States saw that there was an insurance company that would help cover their losses and rebuild, no matter how large the company or the disaster.
As the United States moved into the 20th century, the technology that businesses and the American people used evolved rapidly – especially evident with the automobile. The Hartford saw the need to provide protection that went beyond fire coverage. Wanting to ensure that people could protect their automobiles and other property from more than just fire damage, The Hartford formed its Accident and Indemnity Company in 1913. This 2nd company provided a wide variety of insurance coverage, including accident, automobile liability, personal damage and business interruption. This new generation of insurance protection enabled growth of many industries, including automobiles.
Our Second Century and Forward
The Hartford has continued to help our customers persevere, providing insurance to businesses and well-known people including Babe Ruth and President Dwight D. Eisenhower. We have encouraged businesses to strive to create structures and buildings on a scale the world had never seen by guaranteeing coverage. We insured some of the largest construction projects ever, including the Hoover Dam, the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Golden Gate Bridge.
As the demands of businesses, families and individuals of the United States evolved, so did we. Wanting to help smaller businesses succeed, we became the first insurance provider to offer a dedicated small business service center in 1983. The following year, we became the only insurance company to provide auto and home insurance to members of AARP – an agreement that’s still in place today.
In 2001, our nation was changed forever as we witnessed the September 11th terror attacks. In response, The Hartford paid over $850 million in claims and made major donations to the United Way and other organizations that were impacted by the tragedy.
The Hartford has continued on its path of excellence:
- Becoming a founding partner of the U.S. Paralympics in 2003
- Being named one of the world’s most ethical companies for the 9th time
- Celebrating our 200th Anniversary in 2010
We believe that if you want to know where a business is going, you should look at where it has been. The Hartford looks forward to another 200 years of helping our customers prevail.