Mercury General is a relative newcomer to the auto insurance industry. It was founded in 1962 in Los Angeles by George Joseph. He began the company with six employees and 90 agents.
A graduate of Harvard, Joseph had been working in the life insurance industry in the Golden State. When customers asked him about home and auto insurance, he tried to persuade his employer, Occidental Life Insurance, to offer it, but it declined.
Back in the '50s, everyone paid the same rate for auto insurance regardless of age or driving record. Joseph thought there was a better way to provide insurance and raised $2 million to start his own company. Mercury General sold its first automobile policy in April 1962.
Throughout the '60s and '70s, the company expanded, opening offices throughout California. By the mid-1980s, Mercury had become the largest independent agency writer of private passenger auto insurance in California.
In 1989, it began selling outside of California -- in Georgia and Illinois. Today it sells auto and home insurance through a network of independent agents and brokers in 13 states -- Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.
Company headquarters are in Los Angeles.
In 1985, Mercury converted to public ownership with an initial public offering on NASDAQ at $19 a share. Since 1997, Mercury has traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol, MCY.
In 2009, Mercury purchased AIS (Auto Insurance Specialists), the nation's largest independent insurance agency.
Mercury celebrated its 50th anniversary in business in 2012.
Mercury offers drivers discounts for maintaining a good driving record, insuring multiple cars with Mercury, participating in certain professional associations, installing an anti-theft device and maintaining good grades in school.