1919. Cornelius Vander Starr, the California-born, 27-year-old son of a railroad engineer starts American Asiatic Underwriters Federal Inc. U.S.A. as a property-casualty insurance agency in Shanghai, China.

1921. Starr organizes an AAU sister company, Asia Life Insurance Company, to sell life insurance in China. Legend has it that Starr started the company without having much good mortality data for China.

1926. Starr sets up American International Underwriters, a p-c insurer, in New York. It is Starrs first insurance company that is based in the United States.

1947. Starr incorporates Philippine American Life Insurance Company, a company known for its efforts to finance the construction of housing in the Philippines as well as for life insurance sales.

1951. AIG changes the name of Asia Life to American Life Insurance Company and begins using the company as a vehicle for selling life insurance in Africa and the Middle East as well as in Asia.

1952. AIG acquires a majority stake in Globe & Rutgers Fire Insurance Company, the parent of American Home Assurance Company. American Home is a midsize multiline carrier that was organized in Oklahoma in 1899.

1960. Maurice R. Greenberg, a young lawyer, goes to work for AIG.

1962. Starr names Greenberg president of American Home.

1968. Greenberg succeeds Starr as chief executive of AIG.

1968. AIG acquires a majority stake in National Union Fire Insurance Company, Pittsburgh, the parent of National Union Life Insurance Company. AIG goes on to change the name of National Union Life to AIG Life and make the unit the core of its U.S. life and annuity operations.

1980. AIG begins using American International Life Assurance Company of New York, a unit previously included in its American Home unit, to sell life insurance to U.S.-based multinationals.

1989. Greenberg named AIG chairman.

1999. AIG acquires SunAmerica Inc., Los Angeles, a major annuity seller, for $18 billion.

2001. AIG acquires American General Corp., Houston, a major life and annuity seller, for $23 billion.

2004. AIG ranks first in terms of general account assets in the U.S. life insurance market, second in terms of total net life insurance premiums and third in terms of total net annuity considerations, according to data published by the American Council of Life Insurers, Washington.

–Allison Bell

Sources: AIG company reports; Bests Insurance Reports; The Encyclopedia of Capitalism; David M. Lamptons “Same Bed, Different Dreams: Managing U.S.- China Relations, 1989-2000″; January 1935 issue of Fortune magazine


Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, March 17, 2005. Copyright 2005 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.