American National Insurance Company, headquartered in Galveston, covers seven million policy owners throughout the United States, Canada, Guam, American Samoa, and Western Europe. It was founded on the Strand in 1905 by William Lewis Moody, Jr., who served as company president until his death in 1954. In 1900 Moody became convinced that he could break into the Eastern-dominated insurance industry. In 1904 he became associated with the American National Insurance and Trust Company of Houston, which he moved to Galveston and incorporated in 1905 as the American National Insurance Company. The firm received its charter and made its first stock offering in 1905, using its initial profits to finance growth. The first dividends were paid in 1911. Insurance in force reached over $22 million by 1910, and by 1912 the firm employed seventy workers in its home office and 700 representatives in the field. By 1920 the firm was known as the "Giant of the South." Moody went on to purchase the Galveston News and Tribune and to become active in the hotel industry and ranching.
By 1928 the company employed 500 persons in its home office and had absorbed twenty-seven other insurance companies. Company assets increased by over 100 percent during the 1930s, and insurance in force declined only minimally. In the 1930s the firm was widely known for its sponsorship of award-winning girls' basketball teams made up of company employees. By 1945 insurance in force passed the billion-dollar mark, and in 1950 the firm acquired the Commonwealth Life and Accident Insurance Company of St. Louis and entered the fields of health, hospitalization, and credit life insurance through the purchase of companies in St. Louis and Dallas.
At his death in 1954 Moody willed the majority of the company stock to the Moody Foundation, which subsequently controlled both ANICO and the banks, newspapers, hotels, and ranches he had accumulated. He was succeeded as president of the company by his daughter, Mary Moody Northen. By 1963 American National was one of the top ten stock life and health insurance companies, i.e., firms that sold shares of stock in their enterprise by 1961 and had assets of over $1 billion, in the nation. In 1968 the company acquired the Trans World Life Insurance Company of New York, expanded its operations across the entire United States, Canada, and Western Europe, and acquired a mutual fund management company called Citadel, Incorporated, which it renamed the American National Growth Fund; in 1970 it started the American National Income Fund. In the 1970s American National headquarters moved to the twenty-story American National Tower, designed by Neuhaus and Taylor of Houston, on Moody Plaza in Galveston, which housed the Mary Moody Northen Auditorium and the corporation's art collection of American painters, sculptors, weavers, and watercolorists. At the time the firm had branch offices in 400 cities in forty-nine states. By 1983 the company was the second largest employer in Galveston.
Total life insurance in force reached almost $29 billion by 1991, by which time the company had assets of over $4 billion. In the 1990s the American National "family of companies" included Standard Life and Accident Insurance Company of Oklahoma City; Garden State Life Insurance Company of League City, Texas; American National Property and Casualty Company, American National Insurance Service Company, and American National General Insurance Company of Springfield, Missouri; the American National Life Insurance Company of Texas and American National Insurance Company; ANREM Corporation; and Securities Management and Research of Galveston. Presidents of the firm have included W. L. Vogler, Phil B. Noah, Glendon E. Johnson, and Orson C. Clay.
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David G. McComb, Galveston: A History (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1986). Hugh Williamson, ed., The Story of Insurance in Texas (Dallas: John Moranz Associates, 1954).
Upper Gulf Coast
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Sandia Sullivan and Philip Boydston,
“American National Insurance Company,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed June 30, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
November 1, 1994