In 1917, a small South African insurance company came into existence called
Eagle Star thanks to an industrious gentleman called Edward Mountain. It was
Mountain who initiated the merger between three insurance companies, namely the
Star Life, the Eagle and the British Dominions Marine Insurance Company.
The former two London companies had been around for many years, both with
insurance connections in South Africa. The Star Life, which was founded in 1843,
was a particularly well-known and popular insurance company in South Africa
during that time.
In fact, a record still exists today of an insurance policy sold to a Mr. J
Polkinghorne of Heidelberg (Cape) in 1849. The Eagle's entry into the early
South Africa insurance market, however, was through one of its predecessors, the
United Empire & Continental Life company.
Eagle Star initially began operating in South Africa using the Bullen Brothers'
agency. In 1937 the company opened an office in Cape Town and, not long after,
branches in Johannesburg as well as in Durban.
Almost 28 years later in 1965, Eagle Star merged with two purely South African
insurance companies, SA Fire & Accident and African Guarantee & Indemnity, to
form what is still known today as SA Eagle.
When SA Eagle listed on the JSE in 1968, its shares were in such high
demand that they were oversubscribed tenfold!
In 1965 SA Eagle's gross premium income was R12 million and total assets stood
at R23 million. Today, SA Eagle's gross premiums total R3,5 billion and its
total assets stand at R3,9 billion. Its financial strength is firmly entrenched
in its impressive 54 percent solvency margin.
Acknowledged as the third largest short-term insurance company in South Africa
today, SA Eagle has come a long way from the humble insurance companies it once
hailed from at the beginning of the 20th century.
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