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Leo Goodwin, Sr.Back
Leo Goodwin, Sr.

USA

Induction Year: 2001

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Mr. Leo Goodwin founded the Government Employees Insurance Company (GEICO) in the United States in 1936. His first and foremost innovation was the concept of marketing insurance through the mail at a low price to target an audience of government employees and the top ranks of noncommissioned military personnel.

His innovative marketing ideas worked well after the company's launching in 1936 and the company grew impressively during the Great Depression and through the last half of the 20th Century. Today, the company is merged with the Berkshire Hathaway Company and continues to thrive in the insurance marketplace.

Mr. Goodwin proved himself a visionary when he foresaw opportunities for great growth of his fledgling company by deviating from the traditional flat rating companies offered. He, instead, offered automobile insurance at 20 to 30 percent off the standard industry rates. Significant discounted rates have been the trademark of GEICO through the years and have become the core driving force in the company’s growth and success in automobile insurance. Early on Goodwin recognized that large numbers of buyers saw automobile insurance as a kind of "commodity" similar to the purchase of other products. He sensed that price of the product was the determining factor in marketing and in this regard, he was far ahead of his time in contrast to his competitors.

In 1949, under his direction, GEICO established an automobile finance company. This new development, Government Employees Corporation, represented an almost automatic step in the evolution of the parent Corporation. Whenever a GEICO policyholder purchased a new automobile, it was logical for the owner to turn to GEICO, which could offer lower interest rates, to finance the car. GEICO was thus positioned following the World War II to take advantage of the explosion of automobile transportation to come.

Mr.Goodwin’s innovations were seen in a full array of insurance coverage that GEICO introduced to meet customer demands. A life insurance company was incorporated to sell by direct mail and the company began to write fire insurance policies on dwellings and personal effect. The company began offering personal finance loans to its GEICO customers. While expanding offerings, the company accomplished a growing book of consumer loans, while experiencing one of the lowest loan delinquency ratios in the consumer finance business.

Leo Goodwin launched a number of nationwide safety education programs to enhance public awareness of traffic regulations and safe driving programs. He campaigned for strong enforcement of traffic and vehicle laws and he urged expansion of driver education programs and severe penalties for speeding and drinking while driving. .