The Allstate Corporation (NYSE: ALL) is the second-largest personal lines insurer in the United States (behind State Farm) and the largest that is publicly held. The company also has personal lines insurance operations in Canada. Allstate was founded in 1931 as part of Sears, Roebuck and Co., and was spun off in 1993. The company has its headquarters in Northfield Township, Illinois, near Northbrook. Its current advertising campaign, in use since 2004, asks, "Are you in good hands?" The corporate spokesperson is Dennis Haysbert.
Allstate sponsors many sporting events, including the Allstate Sugar Bowl, the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard NASCAR race, and the United States Olympic Committee. In 2009, Allstate's total revenue was $32 billion, of which $26.2 billion came from Property Liability.
In 1925, Sears, Roebuck & Co. held a national contest to decide the name of a new brand of car tires. After over two million name submissions, "Allstate" was chosen as the winner; the trademark was adopted the very next year. The tires success in both the catalog and retail stores, prompted Sears Chairman General Robert E. Wood to praise the Allstate tire's contribution to Sears' retail store success.
The idea for Allstate Insurance Company came during a bridge game on a commuter train in 1930, when insurance broker Carl L. Odell proposed to Wood, his neighbor, the idea of selling auto insurance by direct mail. The idea appealed to Wood, and he passed the proposal to the Sears board of directors, which approved it. Allstate Insurance Company, named after Sears’ tire brand, went into business on April 17, 1931, offering auto insurance by direct mail and through the Sears catalog.
Lessing J. Rosenwald was Allstate's first board chairman, and Odell was named vice president and secretary.
In 1933, at the Century of Progress World’s Fair in Chicago, Allstate’s Richard E. Roskam sold insurance at a booth in the Sears pavilion. In 1934, Allstate opened its first permanent sales office in a Chicago Sears store.
In 1941, only about a quarter of U.S. drivers had auto liability insurance. This led to the state of New York state passing a law which established the financial responsibility of drivers for damage or injuries resulting from auto mishaps. That law inspired legislation in other states, and by the mid-1950s nearly every state had some sort of financial responsibility law on its books.
The company’s "You're in Good Hands with Allstate®" slogan was created in 1950 by Allstate’s general sales manager Davis W. Ellis. At the end of the decade, it was used in the company's first network television advertising campaign, which featured actor Ed Reimers.
Allstate added products throughout the 1950s, including fire insurance in 1954 and homeowners and life insurance in 1957. Allstate began selling insurance to Canadians in 1953. Allstate Insurance Company of Canada was incorporated in 1964.
In 1967, the company's home office was moved from Skokie to Northbrook, Illinois. Allstate continued to sell additional types of insurance to customers throughout the decade, including worker's compensation insurance in 1964, surety bonds in 1966, ocean marine coverage in 1967 and a business package policy in 1969.
The brand itself expanded in the 1950s and 1960s and could be found on a variety of products like fire extinguishers and motor scooters. In 1952, an Allstate car was produced, but it was a flop; it was pulled from stores by 1953. The Allstate brand was eventually limited to insurance, tires, and car batteries by the late 1960s before becoming insurance-only in the mid-1970s.
In 1991, the company went public before becoming completely independent in 1995.
In 1985, Allstate began to move agents out of Sears stores and locate agents in neighborhood offices. In June 1993, 20 percent of Allstate became public through a stock offering. Allstate became completely independent in June 1995, when Sears spun off the remaining 80 percent stake in the company, distributing 350.5 million shares of Allstate stock to its stockholders.
In 1999, Allstate unveiled a new business model that created a single contract for exclusive, independent agents selling Allstate insurance. It also created a network of call centers.
In 1999, Allstate purchased the personal lines division of CNA Financial and subsequently renamed it to Encompass Insurance Company which is written by independent insurance agents, as opposed to the direct writing that constitutes the core part of its business.
In 2003, actor Dennis Haysbert became Allstate’s spokesman, using the tagline “That’s Allstate’s stand.”