CGU Insurance Company (of Pennsylvania)
The CGU Insurance Company (of Pennsylvania) was established by charter on March 2 1831 as the Potomac Fire Insurance Company of Georgetown. The company was acquired by the General Accident Fire & Life Assurance Corporation Ltd in 1911 and incorporated in Pennsylvania on June 4 1956. On August 25 1999, the company was renamed the CGU Insurance Company and was disposed of June 1 2001.
According to its original charter, the aim of the company was
"to make all kinds of insurances against loss or damage by fire and insurances on inland transportation of goods, wares, merchandise, and country produce".
Initially operations were confined to fire insurance in the District of Columbia; the first policy was taken out in 1831 on the Methodist meeting house on Montgomery Street, Georgetown, for $2,000 at a premium of $6.75.
In 1837, the company changed its name to the Potomac Insurance Company of Georgetown and began to insure freight vessels, merchandise and marine risks. In the same year, it commenced life insurance and the granting of annuities and endowments, though this last class of business was soon dropped.
Potomac and General Accident advertisement, 1942
Further amendments to the powers and privileges of the company were made in 1851, 1870 and 1900, when the company was renamed the Potomac Insurance Company of the District of Columbia. By 1915, the company was operating outside the District of Columbia through general agents Messrs Crum & Forster of New York.
In 1922, the company began to cover lightning, wind storm, flood and automobile risks and, by 1930, was offering insurance for fire, tornado, auto and inland marine. In 1941, it began to cover earthquake and ocean marine risks.
On October 17 1956, the business was merged with that of the American Colonial Insurance Company of Pennsylvania and the Potomac became registered in Pennsylvania. Its name changed on December 31 1981 to the General Accident Insurance Company of America for the domestication of General Accident's US portfolios, before becoming the CGU Insurance Company (of Pennsylvania) in 1999 and being disposed of in 2001.
|1831||The company is established|
|1837||Name changes to the Potomac Insurance Company of Georgetown|
|1900||Name changes to the Potomac Insurance Company of the District of Columbia|
|1911||The company is acquired by the General Accident Fire & Life Assurance Corporation|
|1956||Business is merged with the American Colonial Insurance Company of Pennsylvania|
|1956||The company is incorporated|
|1981||Name changes to the General Accident Insurance Company of America|
|1999||Name changes to the CGU Insurance Company (of Pennsylvania)|
|2001||The company is disposed of|
Did you know...?
Potomac and General Accident advertisement, 1942
- The company was the only private insurance firm ever chartered by an act of congress. The charter was signed in 1831 by Andrew Jackson - known as "Old Hickory" - the seventh president of the United States.
- Among the company's first directors were Raphael Semmes, father of the Confederate admiral Raphael Semmes who commanded the privateer Alabama in sea duels during the American Civil War, and William Corcoran who made millions as a broker and banker, and endowed the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington and the Louise Home for Indigent Women.
- Admiral Semmes also fitted out and commanded the first Confederate vessel, Napoleon of the Seas.
- The company insured Arlington House, now Lee Mansion in the Arlington cemetery, the home of George Washington Parke Custis, grandson of Martha Washington and father-in-law of Robert E Lee.
- The company paid out $230,000 following the great Baltimore fire of 1904.
Subsidiaries and constituents*
|c1918||Aigle Companie Anonyme d'Assurances a Primes Fues Contre l'Incendie|
|pre 1947||Potomac Indemnity Insurance Company|
* Please note the first date given is the date of the establishment of the company and the second date is the date the company was acquired or became a subsidiary. Where only one date is given the company was established as a subsidiary of the parent company. Where one date is preceded by a hyphen the date of the establishment of the company is not known.
Head office premises
|1831 -||Corner of Main and 31st street next to Farmers & Mechanics Bank Georgetown|
|1900 -1906||Washington Loan & Trust Building Washington|
|by 1924 - 1942 at least||General Buildings 414 Walnut Street Philadelphia|
Staff and officials
|by 1913 - 1940||Alexander K Phillips|
|1940 - 1963 at least||Douglas R Phillips|
|by 1965 - 1967 at least||H S Baile|
|1831 -||John Kurtz|
|by c1911||John A Kelly|
|by 1914 - 1929 at least||George W White|
|1938 - 1951||John H Grady|
|1951 - 1967 at least||Edward T Moynahan|
|by 1913 - 1942 at least||Thomas C Moore|
|by 1947 - 1951||Mr Moynahan|
General Accident and Potomac advertisement, c1943
- John Kurtz
- Robert Read
- William Nicholls
- William Hayman
- Raphael Semmes
- Charles A Burnett
- William W Corcoran
Home branches and agencies
- By 1899, agencies were established in a number of states. However, expansion was put on hold by the Baltimore fire of 1904. The company paid out on in full despite huge losses of $230,000.
- New York (by 1915)
- Texas (by 1915)
- By 1931, the company was operating in 40 of the 48 states, as well as in Hawaii.
In the archives
The Aviva archive contains records relating to the running of the CGU Insurance Company (of Pennsylvania) between 1915 and 1981. The collection includes annual statements, branded promotional material, reports, press cuttings, articles and copy charters.