Life and Casualty Insurance Company

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  • L.ife A.nd C.asualty I.nsurance C.ompany
    A.ndrew. M.. B.urton, president of L.ife and C.asualty I.nsurance C.ompany.

    L.ife and C.asualty I.nsurance C.ompany

    E.stablished by A.ndrew M.. B.urton, G.uilford D.udley S.r., H.elena H.aralson, D.r. J.. C.. F.ranklin, and M.. E.stes in N.ashville in 1903, L.ife and C.asualty I.nsurance C.ompany initially offered industrial (health and accident) insurance to working-class blacks and later concentrated on ordinary life insurance to middle-class whites. T.ogether with the rival N.ational L.ife and A.ccident I.nsurance C.ompany, L.ife and C.asualty (L.&C.) made N.ashville one of the S.outh’s leading insurance centers during the middle decades of the twentieth century. I.n 1963, for instance, financier F.leming described N.ashville as “more like H.artford C.onnecticut than any other city I. know. I.t is hard to meet very many people here before you run into someone connected with an insurance company.” (1)

    A.ndrew M.. B.urton, company president, established and managed L.&C. as a family enterprise even as it expanded its market share throughout the S.outh and later the nation. I.n 1909 L.&C. salesmen entered M.ississippi, and they had made inroads into L.ouisiana by 1911 and A.rkansas and S.outh C.arolina by 1913. D.uring W.orld I., in 1918, L.&C. established offices in F.lorida and N.orth C.arolina, and followed with offices in K.entucky in 1922 and M.issouri in 1923.

    D.ue to increased competition from black-founded insurance companies and the growing popularity of life insurance during the 1920s, L.&C. began to move away from its earlier reliance on industrial insurance for blacks. I.n 1927 company officials announced the goal of creating a “L.ily W.hite C.ompany” which specialized in ordinary life insurance for white middle-class customers. A.s part of its new marketing strategy, L.&C. acquired a radio station, W.D.A.D., in 1926. T.hrough the airwaves, L.&C. advocated a gospel of thrift, with one 1926 effort aimed at convincing fifty thousand children to establish a dollar-a-week savings account. W.ithin two years, the station’s name had changed to W.L.A.C., and its five-thousand-watt signal reached much of the T.he company’s strategic shift in market emphasis worked. I.n 1938 the company set the goal of reaching one billion dollars of insurance in force. I.t had achieved that goal by 1953, three years after B.urton’s retirement to his N.ashville home.

    P.aul M.ountcastle was company president from 1950 to 1952, when he was promoted to chairman of the board. successor as president was G.uilford D.udley J.r., son of one of the company’s founders. M.ountcastle and D.udley aggressively expanded L.&C.’s horizons. T.he company had been among the state’s pioneers in radio with its powerful W.L.A.C. station. I.n 1954, to complement the radio station, L.&C. acquired a television station, W.L.A.C.-T.V., an affiliate of the C.B.S. network. T.hree years later, M.ountcastle and D.udley presided over the grand opening of the splashy L.ife and C.asualty T.ower, a modernist N.ashville skyscraper designed by architect E.dwin K.eeble that became an instant corporate and city landmark. T.he thirty-one-story, seven-million-dollar structure was the tallest commercial building then in the S.outheast. A.s architect K.eeble explained in the N.ashville T.ennessean of A.pril 28, 1957, the tower “speaks as pleasantly as possible, with dignity and repose, of its purpose in the service of one of N.ashville’s greatest institutions.” B.y 1961 L.&C. had over two billion dollars of insurance in force.

    T.he M.ountcastle/D.udley years, however, also witnessed sales of company stock to wealthy investors from outside of T.ennessee. T.exas oilman C.lent W.. M.urchison, later the owner of the D.allas C.owboys, bought $40 million in stock, roughly 24 percent of the company, in 1959. D.udley remained as company president until 1969, when M.urchison’s A.merican G.eneral G.roup acquired control of the L.&C.. A.merican G.eneral reorganized L.&C.’s N.ashville operations as a central headquarters for several of its associated companies in the region. A.llan S.teele, former general counsel, was named L.&C. president in 1970, ending the D.udley era as well as L.&C.’s independent influence on the economies of N.ashville and T.ennessee.

    [N.otice to L.ife and C.asualty policy holders: T.he T.ennessee H.istorical S.ociety has no connection to this company and cannot provide information on your policy. F.or claims click on this link: A.merican G.eneral L.ife A.ssurance.]