Who We Are
National Indemnity Company is the lead member of the National Indemnity group of insurance companies. The National Indemnity group of insurance companies is composed of:
- National Indemnity Company
- National Liability & Fire Insurance Company
- National Fire & Marine Insurance Company
- National Indemnity Company of the South
- National Indemnity Company of Mid-America
- Columbia Insurance Company
The story begins in 1940 with two entrepreneurial brothers and a two room office in Omaha, Nebraska. Arthur and Jack Ringwalt founded National Indemnity Company as a specialty insurance firm, a four employee operation (including President Jack Ringwalt) that wrote liability insurance on taxis. Our payroll and our scope of service has blossomed since then, but we still adhere to the Ringwalts’ founding principles: that there is a proper rate for every legitimate risk and that such “risky” classes as long-haul trucks, taxis, rental cars, and public buses should not be arbitrarily rejected.
National Indemnity Company is, today, one of the leading property/casualty members of the Berkshire Hathaway group of insurance companies. Stock control changed from founder Jack Ringwalt to Berkshire Hathaway Inc. in March of 1967. In the 2004 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Report, Warren E. Buffett, Chairman, wrote, “Indeed, had we not made this acquisition [National Indemnity Company], Berkshire would be lucky to be worth half of what it is today.” In addition to its insurance operations, Berkshire Hathaway also has holdings in retail stores, newspapers, and other businesses.
In 1985, National Indemnity Company evolved further, launching its Specialty Risk Division (now known as Professional Liability & Specialty Risks Division). An ad, placed in the Business Insurance, featured the headline, “Berkshire Hathaway wants to see property/casualty risks where the premium is $1,000,000 or more.” This operation began in the Omaha office and eventually moved to Connecticut with the company’s reinsurance division.
The National Indemnity group of insurance companies has traditionally conducted its non-reinsurance business nationwide relying on a network of more than 100 contracted general agents. Independent (or “producing”) agents strive to understand and address their customers’ needs, often relying on the markets provided by general agents to place such business. We contract with the general agents to manage business relationships with those local producing agents. This wholesale distribution arrangement allows our commercial insurance products to be effectively available across the country.
A rich history. A promising future. We’ve experienced dramatic change since 1940, and we’re proud of that. But, we’re also proud of that which has remained constant: our presence in Omaha, Nebraska, and our unwavering commitment to protecting our customers with strength, stability and integrity.
Did you know...
- While our company was still in its infancy, it was thrust into the national spotlight. During World War II, NICO was instrumental in devising a plan to streamline taxi service in Omaha. The War Department had this plan adopted throughout the country and gave NICO an award and a letter of citation. It praised the plan for saving an estimated hundreds of millions of gallons of gasoline for the war effort.
- In the early 1970s, Berkshire Hathaway held its annual shareholders meetings in the National Indemnity Company lunchroom.
- Jack and Arthur Ringwalt’s father and uncle were also in the insurance business. John Ringwalt moved to Omaha with his brother Theodore in 1880 and, together, they became prominent fire insurance agents. Theodore had his own run-in with disaster in March of 1913. His home sustained significant damage during Omaha’s devastating Easter tornado.