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Company History

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Portrait of Daniel Webster Rogers A Modernizing Insurance Company –
Our History - 1950s

When a devastating tornado on Palm Sunday, 1953, killed 190 people in Michigan and Ohio and caused $15 million in property damage, the Windstorm Company strongly felt that it could help prevent injuries and tragic losses of life, even if it could not prevent storms and their damage. The company sponsored an early warning system for tornadoes, which relied on radio to alert police and the public to threatening weather conditions, locations of tornado sightings and direction of movement. The idea was readily accepted and eventually adopted by television as well. Organized weather warnings are now standard practice in public safety.

With its history of success and its customer-centered focus, the company was, in the late 1950s, the largest windstorm insurer in the state and second in the world with over a billion dollars at risk. Although more field inspectors had been hired to keep up with the work load, all of the directors were, in fact, also inspectors in their spare time.

Changes were needed though to keep up with technology and competition. The company began a program of office modernization in 1956, which included replacing the outdated Addressograph machine with IBM accounting equipment. In 1957, the board began to show interest in becoming a general insurance company, and had in fact already talked with several mutual fire insurance companies about joint policywriting. In 1958, the decision was made to sell general mutual insurance.

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