Great American Insurance Group: Everything you need to know
- Headquarters: Cincinnati, Ohio
- GWP: $5.3 billion (for P&C, according to 2020 annual report)
- Employees: 7,500+
- Global locations: UK, Europe, Canada, Mexico, and Singapore
- Key people: Co-CEOs and Co-Presidents Carl H. Linder III and S. Craig Linder; CFO Brian Hertzman
Great American Insurance Group is a Cincinnati, Ohio-based property and casualty insurer, focused primarily on specialty commercial products for businesses.
The Group can trace its roots back to 1872. It was initially called the German American Insurance Company, and it was set up to provide business owners with dependable risk management solutions to cover disaster losses. The insurer sold its first policy on March 19, 1872, to a factory that manufactured rubber combs. After five years in business, the German American Insurance Company became known nationwide as an insurance organization with strong financial stability and an efficient claims services.
The insurer’s strength was tested in the devastating 1906 San Francisco earthquake – and German American really shone above the rest of the market. The firm paid all claims, including those from policyholders who didn’t actually have viable insurance coverage – all to help the California city recover. In total, German American paid more than $2 million in claims after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. This set the firm up for success throughout the 20th century and beyond.
After the First World War, national sensitivity towards the firm’s German affiliation prompted a name change from German American to Great American Insurance Company in 1918. In the century that followed, the Great American brand has turned into a household insurance name around the world.
Great American started writing both property and casualty policies after the Second World War, and by 1950 was writing more than $90 million in premium. In 1961, the firm started a new venture – the Great American Life Insurance Company – and seven years later, both firms were acquired by National General Corporation (NGC).
Journey towards specialization
In the late 1960s, Cincinnati businessman Carl H. Lindner Jr., started investing in Great American’s parent company, NGC, after developing an interest in the property and casualty insurance industry. By 1973, he was the majority owner and, the following year, he merged NGC into American Financial Corporation (AFC). As part of AFC, the insurer refocused its business, a niche market presence in specialized commercial insurance products for businesses, and personal line insurance products for individuals.
Great American provides a wide range of specialty solutions for hundreds of industries, including but not limited to: agriculture and farming, aviation, business services, construction, cultural institutions, educational institutions, energy, equine, equipment, financial institutions, food & beverage, healthcare, hospitality & leisure, manufacturing, marine, non-profits & social services, professional services, public entity, real estate & building maintenance, retail, technology, transportation, and wholesale & distribution.
On the product menu
To service the industries above, Great American provides: accident & health, agribusiness, alternative markets, aviation, bond, crop, cyber risk, ECA-non-subscription, environmental, equine mortality, excess liability, executive liability, FCIA-trade credit & political risk, fidelity / crime, financial institution services, mergers & acquisitions liability, national interstate, ocean marine, professional liability, property & inland marine, public sector, republic indemnity, specialty equipment, specialty human services, strategic comp, trucking, unemployment risk solutions, and vanliner.
Performance highlights – 2020
In 2020, Great American reported $5.3 billion in gross written P&C premium. Of the gross written premium in 2020, 50% was in specialty casualty lines, including: excess and surplus, executive and professional liability, general liability, M&A liability, targeted programs, umbrella and excess liability, and workers’ compensation. The remaining 50% was split between property and transportation (39%) – including agricultural-related business, aviation, commercial auto, and inland and ocean marine – and specialty financial (11%), made up of fidelity / crime, financial institution services, lease and loan services, and Great American’s surety business.
A Cincinnati stronghold
Great American is one of Cincinnati’s most well-known brands. The insurer’s corporate headquarters are at the Great American Insurance Group Tower at Queen City Square, which is the city’s tallest and greenest downtown building. The firm also has its name at the Great American Ball Park, home of the Cincinnati Reds, America’s first professional baseball team.