On December 17, 1925, the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation incorporated the Farm Bureau Mutual Automobile Insurance Company in Columbus, Ohio. At that time, Ohio law required 100 people to pledge to become policyholders. The first agents managed to recruit ten times that number, and on April 12, 1926, Farm Bureau Mutual started business with 1,000 policyholders.
The first product of the new company, as its name implied, was automobile insurance. The company wrote policies only to Ohio farmers. In 1928, Farm Bureau Mutual began offering policies to West Virginia farmers, followed by Maryland, Delaware, Vermont, and North Carolina. Farm Bureau Mutual began underwriting residents of small towns in 1931, and residents in larger cities in 1934.
Nationwide sign outside of One Nationwide Plaza.Also in 1934, Farm Bureau Mutual began offering fire insurance. This product grew the following year with the purchase of a struggling fire insurance company. With growth came a need for expansion of office space. In 1936, the company moved to the famous 246 Building at 246 N. High Street in Columbus. By 1943, Farm Bureau Mutual operated in 12 states and the District of Columbia. Even with the tripling of space in the 246 Building (which was finally dedicated on the 25th anniversary of the company), Farm Bureau Mutual still had insufficient office space, and began opening regional offices in 1951.
In 1955, Farm Bureau Mutual changed its name to Nationwide Insurance, a name by which it's commonly known today. In the 10 years that followed, Nationwide expanded into Oregon, making the company truly "nationwide". It also expanded into 19 other states, bringing the total by 1965 to 32 states and the District of Columbia.
Nationwide outgrew the 246 Building by the 1970s and work began on a new skyscraper headquarters for the company. In 1978, One Nationwide Plaza was completed at the southwest corner of N. High Street and Nationwide Blvd. on the northern edge of downtown Columbus, Ohio. Since 1978, Nationwide has added the following to its presence in Downtown Columbus: Plaza Two (on the northeast corner of High Street and Chestnut), Plaza Three (just west of High Street and Chestnut), Plaza Four (Front Street), and 275 Marconi (behind Plazas One and Three on Marconi Blvd) which together with Plaza One form the primary downtown complex. In addition to downtown Columbus, Nationwide also has a significant presence in the suburbs of Dublin and Grove City.
Nationwide currently has about 35,000 employees, and is ranked #98 in the most recent Fortune 100.