When H.O. Hirt and O.G. Crawford decided to start an insurance exchange in 1925, they wanted to base it on “simple common sense, mixed with just plain decency.” They turned to the Golden Rule as a guiding principle: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
The two entrepreneurs spent months drumming up support for the Erie Insurance Exchange, with nothing but their axiom and a business plan scribbled on a 10-cent tablet.
On April 20, 1925, their fundraising concluded and over 80 years of service and innovation began.
A scant three years after opening for business, ERIE was already expanding. A second office was opened in Pittsburgh, Pa., in 1928.
The company took its first steps outside Pennsylvania in 1953 when it opened a branch in Silver Spring, Md. By the new millennium, ERIE was operating in 11 states and the District of Columbia.
At the same time ERIE was expanding its territories, it also expanded its offerings. The company initially carried only auto insurance. In 1934, the “Super Standard Auto Policy” was introduced, which included many features that have since become industry standards. Fire insurance was added in 1940, and inland marine in 1954.
ERIE made the leap into a true multi-line insurance company in 1961, when it introduced its first homeowners insurance policy, the Pioneer HomeProtector program. The Pioneer Business Protector Policy was created two years later. The Erie Family Life Insurance Company rounded out ERIE’s offerings in 1967; it wrote $5 million in life insurance policies in its first four months of operation.