After more than 120 years, the oldest Black-owned insurance company in the United States has all but come to an end, and will soon be liquidated.
North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Co., which began in 1898 and whose iconic headquarters building helps define the Durham skyline, stopped writing new business in 2016. With a heavy debt load, it was placed into rehabilitation two years later, according to local news reports and state regulators.
The rehab and recovery has not succeeded. This week, a Wake County judge approved a petition from state regulators that the 240,000-policy insurer be liquidated. Premiums and claims will be covered by the North Carolina Insurance Guaranty Association, the state Department of Insurance said.
“The entry of an order of liquidation enjoins all persons from instituting any action at law or in equity or any attachment or execution against NC Mutual,” the insurance department said on its website.
Questions can be directed to the claims department at (800) 626-1899 or (919) 682-9201, and claims correspondence should be sent to NC Mutual, P.O. Box 281709, Nashville, TN, 37228.
NC Mutual was founded by several Carolina businessmen who initially sold burial insurance. The firm eventually expanded to 48 U.S. states and created other institutions, including Mechanics and Farmers Bank, according to reports in Spectrum News 1 and the Triangle Business Journal.
The company was credited with establishing Durham as a burgeoning business hub known as “the Black Wall Street.” But in later years, reports said that The Mutual, as it was known, lagged in technology, customer service and underwriting.