Commercial Travelers was founded in Utica, NY and is the oldest insurance company of its type in the United States.
At the time of the company's founding by Edward Trevvett, a British-born tea salesman, traveling sales representatives (or 'commercial travelers,' as they were then known) had a difficult time obtaining insurance, because the travel portion of their livelihood was considered hazardous, or at least an unusual risk.
Mr. Trevvett and 49 of his fellow sales representatives founded the company as a mutual accident association. The small company's first claim was paid in that summer to Mr. Barrington Lodge of New York City, who was injured in the panic that accompanied the grand opening of the Brooklyn Bridge on July 4, 1883.
Membership reaches the 1,000 mark.
The company grew during its early years primarily by word-of-mouth and by aggressive "member-get-a-member" promotions of the company… rewarding members with commemorative trinkets for signing up more 'commercial travelers'.
The first claim caused by an automobile was paid in 1900.
The company needed more office space and moved to a building at 70 Genesee Street in downtown Utica, within sight of the Erie Canal, and in the busiest commerce district of Utica.
In 1937, the building was tripled in size to accommodate the policy service needs of more than 200,000 policyholders.
The company's 1939 annual report noted "Major disasters in which Commercial Travelers served its members or their beneficiaries included the sinkings of the Titanic, Lusitania and Morro Castle; a major train wreck in Batavia, NY and the historic subway crash in Brooklyn; the Wall Street Explosion, and the more recent wrecks of the Hindenberg and other air craft. But the benefits paid in these 'headline' accidents have been dwarfed by the $56,000,000 paid for 'every-day' mishaps which often occur when the members are 'safe at home.'
Over the years, the company changed its primary focus from disability income insurance for traveling sales representatives to hospital indemnity insurance for the general population, advertising for direct response sales in leading newspapers across the country and becoming one of the first insurance companies in the nation to sell insurance by direct response methods.
The company became one of the first insurance companies in America to install a computer.
Stuart F. Page fell from a ladder at his home in Winchester, Massachusetts and received the company's one millionth claim payment.
The company mutualized on February 16, 1970 ... now licensed in 13 states, the District of Columbia, and 3 Canadian provinces.
The company established Monitor Life Of New York, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Commercial Travelers… primarily to offer additional life insurance products to existing policyholders.
The company's one millionth policy was issued in 1983… the company's centennial year.
The company diversified further by becoming a national presence in the student accident and special risk markets… offering accident coverage for students from kindergarten through college years, school sports coverage, and virtually unlimited types of special risk coverage. Coverage is available through a network of specialized insurance agents.
In the early 1990's, Commercial Travelers began offering a special type of disability income and life insurance (through Monitor Life) for small employers, insuring as few as two employees at a small business.
By 1991, Commercial Travelers was licensed in 48 states (all except Maine and Hawaii), the District of Columbia, and 6 Canadian provinces. In 1996-1997, the company received its license for Maine.
The company is now licensed to sell insurance in all American states except Hawaii. At the present time, it does not insure risks from other countries.
From its modest beginnings in 1883, the small company has grown at a controlled rate to a position of respect throughout the insurance industry.