The History of Legal & General Insurance

The Legal & General Insurance Company is one of the largest insurance and financial products companies based in the United Kingdom. Today, Legal & General has expanded past the borders of the UK to offer many of its products in France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States as well.

Six lawyers joined together in 1836 to form a life assurance society called the Legal & General Life Assurance Society, the entity that would evolve over time into the Legal & General Group plc of today. Now more than just a life assurance company, Legal & General also offers insurance, investment vehicles, and other similar products.

All six initial members of Legal & General were lawyers, and it was not until 1929 that non-lawyers were able to purchase life assurance from the company. Sergeant John Adams was the first chairman of Legal & General and later became a judge who was known for his concern for the proper treatment of juvenile offenders. By the turn of the twentieth century, the Legal & General Assurance Society’s total assets were four million pounds, double the amount with which the company was established.

Legal & General did not escape the troubles that plagued the world economy during the 1920s and 1930s, but it was during this period that the company began to expand past the life assurance business with the addition of fire and accident insurance policies. The company also made its first foray into international finance when it purchased the pensions business from the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company based in New York.

By 1956, the life assurance arm of Legal & General had been extended to Australia, and company assets reached one billion pounds during the following decade. The company officially became Legal & General Group plc in the 1970s and greatly expanded its international reach during the 1980s, establishing branches in France and the Netherlands. These expansions paid off because the managed assets totaled eighty-two million pounds in the 1990s. The Legal & General Group established policies to give shareholders more benefits during the 1990s as well, and steps were taken to streamline company operations with the sale of the Legal & General Australia portion of the company.

In the first decade of the twenty-first century, the Legal & General Group has won several industry awards. Today it continues looking for new ways to expand its business and serve its customers.