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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Durham Life Insurance Company

by Wiley J. Williams, 2006

Postcard of the Durham Life Insurance Company in Raleigh, N.C. from the North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.The Durham Life Insurance Company was founded in Durham in December 1906 as Durham Mutual Protective Association with A. M. Moise as president. The name became Durham Mutual Life Insurance Company in March 1912. Having acquired both Durham Mutual Life and Catawba Mutual Insurance Company, Durham Life was incorporated in December 1913, with Moise serving as president until 1916. He was succeeded by Silas B. Coley that September. Following other acquisitions beginning in 1914, corporate headquarters were moved to Raleigh in June 1920.

Originally, Durham Life wrote industrial insurance to provide low-income people with limited protection in the event of sickness, accident, or death. As the company name suggests, the firm also sold industrial life insurance with somewhat larger premiums than for accident and health policies, including credit and group insurance. As the company grew, it added a wide range of life and accident and health policies.

In 1927 Durham Life purchased radio station WPTF, originally owned by Will A. Wayne. Its call letters stood for "We Protect the Family," which the company had adopted as a slogan in 1914. In 1929 the company established a policy-still in effect-to have WPTF broadcast a live church service every Sunday. Beginning in 1933 the station operated as WPTF Radio Company (later Durham Life Broadcasting, a Durham Life subsidiary). In 1972 the broadcasting company changed the call letters of its FM station to WQDR-FM, and in 1977 that company acquired WRDU-TV and renamed it WPTF-TV.

Corporate changes would eventually take Durham Life out of broadcasting. In 1979 Durham Corporation, a holding company based in Raleigh, was incorporated, and effective 31 December of that year Durham Life became its wholly owned subsidiary. In July 1991 FSF Acquisition Corporation became the new owners of WPTF-TV and the call letters became WRDC (in 1995 they were again changed to WNCN). Durham Corporation merged into Capital Holding Corporation (Raleigh) in 1991. In 1996 Providian Corporation, formerly Capital Holding, sold its Durham insurance operations to the major Dutch firm Aegon.

Update from N.C. Government & Heritage Library staff: 

Inquiries about Durham Life Insurance policies may be directed to:

Policy Owner Services
Monumental Life Insurance Company
4333 Edgewood Rd. NE
Cedar Rapids IA 52499

1-800-638-3080
410-385-6903 (fax)

Updated information regarding Monumental Life:

  • Monumental Life Insurance Company has changed its name to Transamerica Premier Life Insurance Company. 
  • Payments on your existing premiums should be returned to the address indicated on your billing statement. Automatic payments will continue to process as usual.
  • Your policy number or certificate numbers will not change.

References:

"Durham Corporation: It's a New Holding Company for Mature and Honored Firms," We the People of North Carolina 39 (November 1981).

Carl Goerch, Durham Life, 1906-1963 (1963).

Additional Resources:

Views of the Durham Life Insurance Building at NCSU Libraries' Digital Collections: Rare and Unique Materials.

Image Credits:

"Insurance Building, Raleigh, N.C. Also Home of Radio State WPTF, 50,000 Watts" in the Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (P077), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill.

Origin - location: 

Comments

Comment: 

Who bought out or who is Durham Life Retirement Representive.

Comment: 

Hi, Yvonne.

The Durham Life Insurance Company has a confusing history for sure! However, you'll find the answer in the final paragraph above:

In 1979 Durham Corporation, a holding company based in Raleigh, was incorporated, and effective 31 December of that year Durham Life became its wholly owned subsidiary. In July 1991 FSF Acquisition Corporation became the new owners of WPTF-TV and the call letters became WRDC (in 1995 they were again changed to WNCN). Durham Corporation merged into Capital Holding Corporation (Raleigh) in 1991. In 1996 Providian Corporation, formerly Capital Holding, sold its Durham insurance operations to the major Dutch firm Aegon.

A more recent development can be found at https://www.transamerica.com/individual/about-us/who-we-are/name-changes...

"Monumental Life Insurance Company, a Transamerica Company, is changing its name to become Transamerica Premier Life Insurance Company."

Thank you.

Mike Millner, NC Government & Heritage Library

Comment: 

I would like to know what company bought Durham Life Insurance Company."NC

Comment: 

Hi, Delvera,

The Durham Life Insurance Company has a confusing history for sure! However, you'll find the answer in the final paragraph above:

In 1979 Durham Corporation, a holding company based in Raleigh, was incorporated, and effective 31 December of that year Durham Life became its wholly owned subsidiary. In July 1991 FSF Acquisition Corporation became the new owners of WPTF-TV and the call letters became WRDC (in 1995 they were again changed to WNCN). Durham Corporation merged into Capital Holding Corporation (Raleigh) in 1991. In 1996 Providian Corporation, formerly Capital Holding, sold its Durham insurance operations to the major Dutch firm Aegon.

A more recent development can be found at https://www.transamerica.com/individual/about-us/who-we-are/name-changes....

Thank you.

Mike Millner, NC Government & Heritage Library

Comment: 

I worked for an insurance company by the name of Alsop & Elliott Insurance / International Group Trust. Address was 6620 W. Board street Richmond VA 23230..
We were brought out by Durham Life Insurance and all were either transfers to NC or lost their job...i was out on maternity leave at that time.. I was just wondering if you have any records of this in your Durham Life story and if in those records had the old telephone # for the richmond VA office..
I know it is not a working number..just that the curious about that phone number?

Comment: 

Dear Debra,

Thank you for visiting NCpedia and for taking the time to share your story and question.

Unfortunately, NCpedia does not have any additional information about the Durham Life Insurance Company beyond the encyclopedia article and the additional information included in the references (below the article).  You may be able to find a phone number in a city directory for Richmond for the year you are interested in. Two ideas I have for locating this information are to contact the State Library of Virginia http://www.lva.virginia.gov/ or the Richmond Public Library http://rvalibrary.org/.  They may have these directories in their collections.

I hope this helps!  Please let me know if you have any additional questions.

Best wishes,
Kelly Agan, NC Government & Heritage Library
 

Comment: 

My Father, Robert L. Smitherman, died 8/29/2016, In going through his personal papers I found an old Durham Life Insurance Company of Raleigh, NC policy on me. It was for $500.00. I am the insured. It was taken out 1/16/1956. I have tried numerous times to contact Monumental Life - 1-800-638-3080 and have had to hold forever. Not at liberty to receive calls during the day and you are closed when I could. The Number of the policy is not 9 digits and we did not have to have social security numbers during that time. Please advise so I may cash this in.
Thank you.

Comment: 

Dear Mr. Smitherman,

Unfortunately, NCpedia is unable to help with policy questions. Our current understanding is that inquiries about Durham Life Insurance Policies may be directed to:
Policy Owner Services
Monumental Life Insurance Company
4333 Edgewood Rd. NE
Cedar Rapids IA 52499

1-800-638-3080
410-385-6903 (fax)

Best wishes,

Mike Millner, NC Government & Heritage Library

Comment: 

I am emailing for my mom she has about 5 insurance policies for durham life she would like to cash in. She doesn't know if she could understand Anyone on the phone. One policy no id 376 98 76.

Comment: 

Dear Virginia,

Unfortunately, NCpedia is unable to help with policy questions. Our current understanding is that inquiries about Durham Life Insurance Policies may be directed to:
Policy Owner Services
Monumental Life Insurance Company
4333 Edgewood Rd. NE
Cedar Rapids IA 52499

1-800-638-3080
410-385-6903 (fax)

Best wishes,

Marie Jones, NC Government & Heritage Library

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