In the 1920s, farmers were paying the same rates on their automobile insurance as city drivers even though they had fewer accidents and claims than city drivers. The Ohio Farm Bureau decided to set up their own insurance company to offer rates that accurately reflected the driving habits of farmers.
On April 10, 1926, the Farm Bureau Mutual Automobile Insurance Company obtained a license to do business in Ohio and two days later it acquired its financing, a $10,000 loan drawn from the membership dues of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.
At that time, Ohio law required 100 people to pledge to become policyholders. The first agents managed to recruit ten times that number, and on April 14, 1926, Farm Bureau Mutual started the business with over 1,000 policyholders.
The first product of the new company, as its name implied, was automobile insurance. The company wrote policies only to Ohio farmer who were members of the Ohio Farm Bureau.
Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company and affiliated companies is a group of large U.S. insurance and financial services companies based in Columbus, OH. The company also operates regional headquarters in Des Moines, IA; San Antonio, TX; Gainesville, FL; Raleigh, NC; Sacramento, CA, and Westerville, OH. Nationwide currently has approximately 34,000 employees,and is ranked #66 in the 2018 Fortune 500 list. Nationwide is currently ranked #53 in Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For”.
In 1928, Farm Bureau Mutual expanded to West Virginia, followed by Maryland, Delaware, Vermont, and North Carolina. Farm Bureau Mutual began underwriting residents of small towns in 1931 and residents in larger cities in 1934. Also, in 1934, Farm Bureau Mutual began offering fire insurance. This product grew the following year with the purchase of a struggling fire insurance company.
In 1935, Farm Bureau Mutual acquired the Life Insurance Company of America from the bankrupt fraternal insurer, American Insurance Union. The company was later renamed to Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company in 1938.
With growth came a need for expansion of office space. In 1936, the company moved to the famous 246 Building at 246 N. High Street in Columbus.
By 1943, Farm Bureau Mutual operated in 12 states and the District of Columbia. Even with the tripling of space in the 246 Building (which was finally dedicated on the 25th anniversary of the company), Farm Bureau Mutual still had insufficient office space and began opening regional offices in 1951.
In 1955, Farm Bureau Mutual changed its name to Nationwide Insurance, a name by which it is commonly known today. In the 10 years that followed, Nationwide expanded into Oregon, making the company truly “nationwide”. It also expanded into 19 other states, bringing the total by 1965 to 32 states and the District of Columbia.
Nationwide outgrew the 246 Building by the 1970s and work began on a new skyscraper headquarters for the company. In 1978, One Nationwide Plaza was completed at the southwest corner of N. High Street and Nationwide Blvd. on the northern edge of downtown Columbus,
Ohio. Since 1988, Nationwide has added the following to its presence in Downtown Columbus: Plaza Two (on the northeast corner of High Street and Chestnut), Plaza Three (just west of High Street and Chestnut), Plaza Four (Front Street), 275 Marconi (behind Plazas One and Three on Marconi Blvd),
and 10 West Nationwide, which together with Plaza One form the primary downtown complex. In addition to downtown Columbus, Nationwide also has a significant presence in the Columbus, Ohio metropolitan suburbs of Dublin, Grandview Heights, and Grove City.