North American Company for Life and Health Insurance celebrates its 125th anniversary this month.

Now one of the leading companies in life insurance and annuities, it’s come a long way since its founding in Chicago as North American Accident Association in May of 1886.

North American specialized in accident insurance until 1945, when the purchase of Eureka-Maryland Corp. expanded the company’s business into life insurance. In 1958, the company changed its name to North American Company for Life, Accident and Health Insurance, only to change it again less than 10 years later — this time for good — to North American Company for Life and Health Insurance.

In 1996, Sammons Enterprises acquired North American; Sammons, ranked 138 on Forbes’ 2010 list of largest private companies, still owns the company today.

As it heads into its anniversary celebration, North American holds over $10.3 billion in assets and has more than $102.5 billion of life insurance protection in force. The company retains A+ ratings from both A.M. Best and Standard and Poor’s.

“There’s a bright future ahead for us,” says Esfand Dinshaw, chief executive officer of Sammons Financial Group. “We have strong momentum, and we can look forward to more milestones and even greater years by adhering to our core values, sticking to the fundamentals and doing what’s right for our policyholders.”

For more on North American, see:

North American introduces new trigger product

North American Company upgrades indexed universal life product

North American Company introduces new Survivorship Life Insurance product