Markel Corporation (NYSE – MKL) is a holding company for insurance, reinsurance, and investment operations around the world. Headquartered in Richmond, Virginia and founded in 1930, Markel reports its ongoing underwriting operations in three segments, and products originate from four insurance divisions and one reinsurance division. Through Markel Ventures, they allocate capital to invest in opportunities outside of insurance.
Company founder Samuel A. Markel formed the Mutual Casualty Association and established the Mutual Casualty Company in Norfolk, Virginia. The company headquarters later moved to Richmond, Virginia. Sam Markel’s four sons, Lewis, Irvin, Stanley, and Milton, joined the growing business in the 1930s, and Markel Service, Inc. was created. During this time, Markel was actively involved in efforts to develop safety and other standards aimed at legitimizing the growing bus and trucking industries. Markel also assisted in passing the National Motor Carrier Act of 1935.
By the 1940s, Markel Service, Inc. earned a national following and developed a reputation for industry-leading claims adjusting and safety engineering. American Fidelity & Casualty, a sister company covering fleets of trucks and buses, also became the largest insurer of these risks in the USA. In 1980, the company became an insurance carrier when Essex Insurance Company was incorporated and licensed to write excess and surplus lines business. In 1986, the Markel Corporation was listed on the NASDAQ exchange, with an IPO offered at $8.33 per share. The company’s trading was moved to the NYSE in 1997. Markel gained access to specialty international markets in 2000, when Terra Nova Holdings, Ltd. was acquired and the [London] office opened. Branch offices later opened in the UK, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Canada. With a “permanent capital” investing approach, Markel Ventures acquired AMF Bakery Systems in 2005 and continued to acquire other varied and scalable businesses. With the $3.1 billion acquisition of Alterra Capital Holdings Limited, Markel added two additional insurance divisions, Markel Global and Markel Reinsurance. In 2015, Markel acquired Bermuda-based CATCo, a specialist investment management business; and Markel Ventures announced a majority interest in CapTech.
Today, the company is led by Executive Chairman Alan I. Kirshner, who is one of the authors of the Markel Style.
Beginning in 1930, Markel established Markel Service, a separate company to handle direct and reinsurance of AF&C.
In 1951, the company expanded into Canada by founding Markel Service Canada, Ltd., headquartered in Toronto, Ontario.
In 1959, the national claims division of AF&C became National Claims Service, an independent adjuster that could be contracted by other insurance firms. The Safety Engineering Division also began offering services to other firms.
The company later expanded beyond truck and bus companies, led by the third generation of Markels: Anthony (Vice Chairman), Steve, and Gary.
In 1980, the company founded Essex Insurance Company in Delaware. Essex began as a property insurance company in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, but later moved to Richmond, Virginia.
In 1985, Prem Watsa took control of Markel Financial Holdings, a Canadian-based trucking insurance company. Near bankruptcy, Watsa determined it needed a capital injection.
In December 1986, Markel Corp. held its first IPO at $8.33 per share, valuing the company at $15 million. Shares traded on the NASDAQ.
In 1987, Markel reorganized Markel Financial Holdings (Canada) and renamed it Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd., short for "fair, friendly acquisitions."
In December 1987, Markel Corp. acquired half of Shand Morahan & Company, an underwriter in Deerfield, Illinois.
In December 1990, Markel completed its acquisition of Shand. As part of the Shand acquisition, Markel Corp. also acquired American Underwriting Managers, an insurance underwriter in Pewaukee, Wisconsin specializing in personal boat and motorcycle insurance.
In 1989, Markel Corp. acquired the Rhulen Agency of Monticello, New York. Rhulen is a specialty insurer for children's summer camps and youth organizations. Rhulen was later moved to Richmond, Virginia, and renamed Markel Insurance Company.
In the Spring of 1997, Markel Corp. trading moved to the NYSE.
In January 2000, Markel Corp. founded Markel Southwest Underwriters in Scottsdale, Arizona after buying the Arizona policies of Acceptance Insurance Company.
In March 2000, Markel Corp. completed the acquisition of Terra Nova (Bermuda) Holdings Ltd.
In October 2009, Elliott Special Risks LP (ESR) was purchased by Markel International, a London-based specialty property and casualty insurer that runs the international operations of Markel Corp.
On May 10, 2010, at the Markel Corp. Annual Meeting, it was reported there would be a new management structure approved by the Board. Alan I. Kirshner would remain Chairman and Chief Executive Officer while Anthony F. Markel and Steven A. Markel would still serve as Vice Chairman. Reporting to them would be a three-member Office of the President. Thomas S. Gayner became President and Chief Investment Officer, while Richard R. Whitt, III and F. Michael Crowley became President and Co-Chief Operating Officers.
In July 2010, Markel Corp. acquired Aspen Holdings, Inc. of Omaha, Nebraska.
In April 2011, Markel (UK) Limited launched Markel Direct, an online direct to customer distribution channel for specialist insurance.
On January 4, 2012, Markel Corp. completed the acquisition of Thompson Insurance Enterprises, a privately held program administrator underwriting multi-line, industry-focused insurance programs.
In February 2012, Markel's Camp Insurance Program joined forces with CampDoc.com, an electronic health record system for camps, to help summer camps reduce risk and liability and to ensure the health and safety of kids while at camp.
In June 2012, Markel Direct expanded product range into charity and community group risks.
In October 2012, Markel purchased Essentia Insurance Company.
On May 1, 2013, Markel Corporation completed its acquisition of Alterra Capital Holdings Limited.
In June 2016, it was announced that Markel had joined the Fortune 500 for the first time.
This line of business makes permanent investments in businesses outside of the specialty insurance marketplace. The goal is to build profitable enterprises that will endure as part of the broader Markel Corporation. Markel Ventures companies include:
In 2014, Markel completed its acquisition of Abbey Protection PLC, a company that sells and underwrites insurance products that provide protection against legal expenses and other professional fees incurred by clients as a result of legal actions and HMRC investigations.
Markel is headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, and globally holds 62 offices in 20 countries:
Markel's internal money management firm is Markel-Gayner Asset Management Corp.