Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Entries : Kemper Corp.
Kemper Corp.

Kemper Corp.

In 1912, after the State of Illinois passed a workers' compensation law, James S. Kemper founded the Lumbermens Mutual Casualty Co., which sold accident insurance. Kemper's firm soon became one of the first to offer automobile insurance. By 1919, Lumbermens had offices around the country. The company continued to operate through World War II, and changed its name to James S. Kemper & Co. During the late 1960s, when annual revenues neared $150 million, the company moved its headquarters from Chicago to suburban Long Grove and became part of Kemperco Inc., a holding company. By the late 1970s, when the company was known as Kemper Corp., annual revenues had jumped to nearly $1 billion. Kemper expanded during the 1980s by moving into financial services. While Kemper would continue in the insurance business into the twenty-first century, its foray into the securities arena was short-lived. In 1995 Zurich Insurance of Switzerland acquired Kemper Corp. and promptly sold off the securities division to Kemper employees as a separate company named Everen Securities Inc. Kemper Insurance Companies, as it came to be called, dramatically downsized in the early 2000s, laying off thousands of employees in Chicago and nationwide and, in 2003, selling off its service organization.