As the industry keeps changing, it's important to know a company's "pedigree."
Hailstorms and windstorms that battered the Midwest last year meant $1.1 billion in record storm and catastrophe losses for American Family Insurance of Madison, nearly three times the company's 2005 storm losses of $390.7 million.
A hailstorm last April damaged roofs, causing more than $266.5 million in American Family losses in Iowa, southern Wisconsin and Indiana.
While other insurance companies experienced record losses in 2005 due to hurricanes, American Family does not write polices in Gulf Coast or Atlantic Seaboard states.
Despite the company's record claims, American Family increased policyholder equity by $52.3 million last year to $4.9 billion. Policyholder equity serves as financial protection in the event of catastrophic events and unexpected losses.
Group revenues dropped 0.6 percent to under $6.8 billion while company assets were up 5.7 percent to nearly $15.5 billion. Net income was down 96 percent to $24.4 million in 2006.
With 8,237 employees and 3,975 independent agents, American Family offers auto, home, life, health, commercial and farm/ranch insurance as well as investment products and consumer loans in 18 states. The company began writing polices in Washington last year.