History & Timeline 1930s03/22/2007
Awards and Recognition
It was the Great Depression. Many long-term businesses were closing their doors at an alarming rate. General Wood, however, recognized the automobile was fast becoming a mainstay of American life, and an automobile insurance company was an opportunity to extend Sears services to the public. After undertaking an exhaustive study on insurance issues, he convinced the Sears Board of Directors to finance this insurance company with $700,000.
With a name borrowed from an automobile tire sold in the Sears catalog, and the backing of Sears, the great adventure of Allstate Insurance Company begins on April 17, 1931.
On May 17, William Lehnertz, a tool and die maker from Aurora, Ill., becomes Allstate's first policyholder. He pays $41.60 for a 12-month policy on his 1930 Studebaker.
Allstate pays its first claim on the spot when an insured walks into the one-room Allstate office holding an auto door handle broken off in a theft attempt.
By year-end, Allstate has 4,217 policies in force, a premium volume of $118,323 and 20 employees. The company suffers a $76,000 loss for the year.
At the Chicago World's Fair, Richard Roskam becomes Allstate's first agent when he sets up a card table in the Sears exhibit and is swamped with applications.
The change in sales methods from direct-mail to Allstate-agent representation begins with the opening of the first Allstate sales location in a Chicago Sears store.
Allstate hires its first full-time salaried claim adjuster.
Allstate startles the insurance industry by tailoring auto rates by age, mileage and use of car. The plan is so popular the industry follows suit.
Written premium is $3.7 million with 113,472 policyholders and 529 employees. Allstate receives 25,461 claims for the year.
Learn more about Allstate in the 1940s.↑ Back to Top