A tribute to the founder, William R. Timmons, and the history of Canal Insurance Company as it has Navigated the Risks of the Road for More Than 75 Years!

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1930-1939

Despite the Great Depression, William R. Timmons saw a bright future for long-haul trucking operators, and a niche for his insurance agency—if he could address the unique challenges faced by the trucking industry. To that end, Timmons and his manager, T.J. Mims, worked to help the South Carolina Motor Transportation Association set up its own insurance company. The Wm. R. Timmons Agency was successful, though coverage was initially limited to South Carolina.

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1940-1949

In December 1942, seeking a stable truck insurer, William Timmons acquired Canal Insurance Company from the First National Bank of Columbia for $17,500, the surplus at the time. Canal had been formed in 1939 to insure autos financed by the Bank, but WWII frustrated both its purpose and its growth. With car production resources diverted to the war effort, the bank was happy to sell a non-performing asset.

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1950-1959

Prior to William Timmons’ death, Georgia was at the top of Canal’s expansion list. Within a year of purchase, Georgia had been added to the firm’s operation, followed by Florida and Alabama. By 1953, business was booming, and Canal was licensed in nine southern and border states. For the next six years, Mims was constantly on the road selling Canal as a solid transportation insurer – a rarity in that day and age. By 1958, Canal was licensed in 27 states, writing $4.7 million in premium with a surplus just past the $1 million mark.

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1960-1969

The 1960s saw a steady expansion of territory, premium, and surplus. In the 1960 Best Insurance Report, Canal was listed as operating in 42 states and garnered an “excellent” review for growth, sponsorship, and investments. Assets were close to $6 million, and policyholders’ surplus was well over $1 million.

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1970-1979

Despite fluctuations in the nation’s economy in the 1970s, Canal continued to grow by adding personnel, technology, and facilities, and never recorded a year without significant growth. The premium was at $32 million, with $17.5 million surplus – 1000 times the original surplus and purchase price. As a result of this performance, Canal received a rare A+ rating from A.M. Best.

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1980-1989

Canal experienced great success in the 1980s. Surplus rose to $400 million, and premiums reached just under $200 million. In February of 1989, Canal celebrated its 50th Anniversary. For Canal’s loyal executive staff, each of whom had been with the company for over 40 years at this point, this was an especially significant milestone.

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1990-1999

Canal continued to grow throughout the 1990s. In 1992, the headquarters moved to the current Stone Avenue location to accommodate the now 155 employees. It was during this time that Mims was replaced as President by Charles M. Timmons. After Charles’s death in 1998, his son Charles M. Timmons, Jr. replaced him as president, and William R. Timmons, III, Senior Vice President of Investments, assumed the roles of Secretary and Treasurer.

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2000-2009

In 2000, the hard market hit. Despite the challenging conditions, Canal tripled its business over the next five years, with surplus increasing by $185 million. Over the course of this growth, Canal added to and improved its technology and processes to accommodate increased business. By 2005, Canal employed more than 210 people. Beginning in 2007, the commercial insurance market began to soften, especially for trucking.

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2010-future

Canal entered the second decade of the 21st century as a well-established, privately owned company with legendary tenure in the transportation insurance marketplace. Responding to the significant market changes that began during the previous decade, Canal focused on achieving profitable, sustainable growth by broadening and diversifying its transportation portfolio. Canal celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2014 and embarked upon its fourth quarter-century stronger than ever.

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