Atlanta Life Insurance Company, Largest Black-Owned Stockholder Insurance Company in America

Written by Jae Jones

The was founded on September 21, 1905. The company is the largest -owned stockholder insurance company in America. The company was founded by prominent businessman . Herndon wanted to provide a solution to the problem that so many Black Americans faced. Too often Black people were being cheated by insurance companies. Many insurance companies were promising one thing to Black families, but when it was time to pay up, Black families were left struggling to pay the uncovered costs. Most of the companies also had loop holes that Black knew nothing about and didn’t understand that they could exist in their policy.


Atlanta Life started as a small insurance association with only an investment of $5,000. It operated as a mutual assessment enterprise for many years. By the end of 1909 there were over 20,000 policy holders. The company offered one contract, which was an industrial health and accidental coverage. The company eventually expanded to a stockholder organization by 1916. It was during this time that Herndon decided to purchase 90 percent of Atlanta Life’s stock with his personal resources. The business was started in an era when there was extreme racial prejudices and animosity against Black Americans, however the business leaders did not allow that to stop them.


Herndon later joined men like John Merrick, organizer of the North Carolina Mutual Insurance Company of Durham, North Carolina, and Samuel Wilson Rutherford, founder of the National Benefit Insurance Company in Washington, D.C., to solidify the link between mutual aid and capitalism. After the death of Herndon, his son Norris Herndon operated the company until retirement in 1973. He was replaced by Jesse Hill, a University of Michigan graduate. In 1992, the reigns of the company passed down again. Decades later, the company is a prime example of great African-American achievement. The company today has several hundred millions in assets and operates throughout the country in 17 states.



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About the author

Jae Jones

Jae Jones has been writing professionally for over 10 years. She holds a degree in Business Administration, and enjoys writing on various topics.

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