New York Life Insurance Company has its roots in the 1845 founding of the Nautilus Insurance Company in New York City as a fire and marine insurance company. In 1845 the company decided to concentrate on life insurance. They changed their name to New York Life Insurance Company in 1849.
During the American Civil War, New York Life Insurance experienced its first crisis. Because Abraham Lincoln prohibited commerce with the southern states during the war, the company was cut off from its southern policy holders, creating a host of problems. New York Life solved this by insuring soldiers and civilians in combat.
In the booming post-war years the company flourished. As people moved westward, so did the company.
The company lost $10 million during the Influenza epidemic of 1918-1919. However, they were relatively unscathed coming out of the Great Depression.
In the 1960’s New York Life Insurance introduced the first family insurance plan.
In 1969 the company introduced the NYLIFE name brand to differentiate its financial services from its traditional life insurance policies.
In 1998 Aetna Inc. purchased the subsidiary NYLCare Health Plans for over $1 billion in cash.
In 1999 the company entered the Mexican market when it acquired Seguros Monterrey Aetna for $570 million.
New York Life Insurance’s net income passed $1 billion for the first time in 2000.
Today New York Life Insurance ranks #89 on the Fortune 500 list in 2013. Its revenue was $34.3 billion for 2012.