If you ever wondered why your auto insurance rate is tied to your driving record, ask George Joseph. Joseph's story can also explain why you get a discount when buying home and auto insurance from the same company.
When auto insurance was first rolled out en masse after World War II, everyone paid the same rate, regardless of previous driving history.
Joseph, who unlike most insurance professionals at the time had an actuarial background, realized this approach was all wrong. He used the numbers to make the case that drivers with a history of accidents and traffic violations should pay more for insurance than those with clean records.
This insight was key to Joseph's enormous success in the industry, leading to his status as a billionaire decades down the road. And Joseph is not just any billionaire — at 95, he is officially the oldest billionaire in America, according to Forbes, which lists his net worth at $1.6 billion.
Through a representative, Joseph declined to be interviewed for our story.
According to the biography of Joseph published at the website of the company he founded, Mercury Insurance, he is the embodiment of the American dream — a classic 20th century success story.
Joseph, the son of Lebanese immigrants, grew up during the Great Depression in West Virginia. His father earned wages as a coal miner and shopkeeper; his family also raised pigs and chickens. They struggled but survived, Joseph has said.