As the new decade dawned, State Auto had reached $185.3 million in written premium, and was operating in 14 states. Even more dynamic growth was to come in the 1980s and beyond, as the industry encountered one of its most challenging times. Many companies were having problems due to high expenses, declining surpluses, and gambling on unacceptable risks. State Auto streamlined itself to succeed in this newly unstable environment.
1983 Bob Bailey became president following the unfortunate, unexpected death of George Massar; momentous changes are to come.
1984 Personal/commercial product line mix stood at 80/20, even though the ultimate goal was 60/40 in a soft, under-priced, commercial market. The company began major agency force expansion while focusing on the fundamentals such us cutting expenses and strengthening underwriting efforts. President Bailey reminded employees that very few P&C insurers performed consistently well year after year. "We want to be among those consistently good performers."
1987 Southern Home's name was changed to State Auto Property and Casualty Insurance Company (State Auto P&C).
1988 Major progress was made in State Auto's operating performance. The company’s expense ratio plummeted and underwriting profits became the norm. Commercial lines became a buyer's market. State Auto recommended that sales reps make commercial line quotes in the field to increase commercial sales. State Auto's Nativity display remained a perennial central Ohio holiday favorite.
1989 State Auto expanded into the state of Mississippi. Columbus Security Life was renamed State Auto Life. Ted Magley, an "underwriter's underwriter" who joined the company in 1949, was elected chairman of the board.
At left: Paul R. Gingher, who served as Chairman of the Board from 1974 to 1989, when he was named Chairman Emeritus. Gingher served on the Board of Directors and held numerous other positions from 1929, when he first joined the company, until his death in 1992.