On March 10, 1937, Joseph Lewis and Jack Green started Progressive Mutual Insurance Company. They wanted to provide vehicle owners with security and protection, and they thought an insurance company was a good investment for a couple of lawyers who were just getting started.Since its beginning, Progressive has taken an innovative approach to auto insurance. We offered drive-in claims service before any other auto insurance company, and, in another industry first, we allowed customers to pay their premiums in installments — an appealing option for those who couldn’t afford annual payments. Progressive wanted — and still wants — to make auto insurance accessible and easy so more people could protect their vehicles.
By 1951, Progressive’s growth prompted a move to new offices in downtown Cleveland. In 1955, Jack Green became CEO after the death of Joe Lewis, and Peter Lewis, Joe’s son, began his career with Progressive. Peter immediately began looking for ways to distinguish the company from its competitors. In 1956, Progressive Casualty Company was formed to write auto insurance for high-risk drivers. Today, the company insures all types of drivers.
More growth and expansion in the 1960s brought about the formation of The Progressive Corporation. In 1965, Peter Lewis assumed the title of CEO, a position he held for 35 years until he turned the reins over to Glenn Renwick, current CEO and President, in 2000.
Growth and Innovation
Progressive’s steady growth continued through the years, which helped fuel the decision to become a public company in 1971. Three years later, in 1974, Progressive moved its headquarters to the Cleveland suburb of Mayfield Village.
The next two decades saw steady growth for the company, and in 1987, Progressive surpassed $1 billion in premiums. That same year, the New York Stock Exchange listed Progressive stock under the PGR symbol.
Our business philosophy was to approach auto insurance in an innovative way — like no other company had. From that mindset came the following industry standards and achievements:
– In 1990, we introduced Immediate Response claims service, available 24/7, to provide customers with personal service and support immediately after they reported a claim.
– In 1992, Progressive was recognized as the largest seller of auto insurance through independent insurance agents.
– In 1994, Progressive surpassed $2 billion in written premium.
– Also in 1994, we introduced 1-800-AUTO-PRO, a cutting-edge auto insurance rate comparison shopping service. Consumers no longer had to call several companies to compare auto insurance rates — in one phone call to 1-800-AUTO-PRO, they’d receive a Progressive quote and comparison rates for up to three competitors. Plus, if customers wanted to buy from Progressive, they could purchase an insurance policy directly and immediately on the phone. Today, this service is available by dialing 1-800-PROGRESSIVE (1-800-776-4737).
– Another industry first in 1994 was the introduction of the Immediate Response Vehicle (IRV), a specially marked and outfitted vehicle that brought trained claims professionals to wherever customers needed them —even to the scene of an accident.
In the early 2000s, Progressive changed its claims focus to provide a better overall experience for every party involved in a claim, including the customer and the body shop. This focus helped us launch our concierge level of claims service — another industry first — in 2003. With this level of service, Progressive oversees all elements of the claims/repair process on behalf of drivers involved in accidents, which reduces the time drivers spend managing repairs from about four days to 15 minutes. Customers simply drop off their cars at a Service Center, located in select markets, and pick them up once the repairs are complete — Progressive takes care of everything in between.
In 2006, Progressive expanded its concierge level of claims service to address the special needs of drivers whose vehicles are unrepairable as the result of an accident. Our Total Loss Concierge service helps customers find a replacement vehicle at a competitive price — and helps them find financing, too.
Currently, Progressive is the third largest auto insurance group in the United States, thanks to innovations including comparison rates and 24/7 customer and claims service. Our growth continues at a steady pace, too: Between 1996 and 2005, Progressive grew an average of 17 percent per year, from $3.4 billion to $14 billion.
Online Insurance and Beyond
In 1995, when the Internet was just gaining popularity, Progressive stepped ahead of the competition and became the first major auto insurer in the world to launch a Web site. The site was primarily informational, but it soon became more interactive. By 1996, consumers could obtain comparison rates online, and by 1997, they could buy auto insurance policies online in real time.