Odd facts about 5 top car insurance companies

Wacky facts about the car insurance Big 5
Wacky facts about the car insurance Big 5 © J.D.S/

What's the secret connection between Geico and Flo, the Progressive cashier? Which car insurance company was once owned by a tobacco company? And could that quirky University of Farmers test lab from the Farmers Insurance commercials really exist?

Climb aboard as we cruise for little-known facts and curiosities about America's top five auto insurers. Each got its start shortly before or during the Great Depression, at a time when America's highways were a far different place.

"From today's perspective, there was carnage on the road; the accident rate was a hundred times higher than it is now per driver," says Kenneth Abraham, a University of Virginia insurance law professor. "Auto insurance wasn't mandatory back then, so there wasn't massive demand, even among the people who owned vehicles."

America's top five car insurers gained their footholds by selling affordable policies to low-risk groups, particularly farmers who were being charged city rates for country driving.

"If liability insurers weren't differentiating what they charged, then farmers were basically getting screwed. So these mutual companies formed to give farmers a better deal," Abraham says.

Dead ahead: car insurance trivia you never knew about cavemen, "Mayhem" -- and Manilow!


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