Shining Light Spotlight – RLI Corporation

RLI Corporation (Ticker Symbol: RLI) is an underwriter of property and casualty insurance, primarily in the United States. Currently headquartered in Peoria, Illinois, it operates in three segments: Casualty, Property, and Surety and targets specialty and underserved markets. The company’s slogan is “Different Works.” This not only applies to their unique business model that has proven quite successful over the years, but also to their strong commitment to the values that lead us to consider them a Shining Light Company.

Humble Beginnings

RLI has offered a diverse portfolio of property and casualty insurance coverages and since their inception in 1965. Founder Gerald D. Stephens recognized the expense of replacing contact lenses, leading him to create RLI – Replacement Lens, Inc. – which became a contact lens insurance agency. Stephens’ new company struggled to find their footing, losing money in their first five years in business. He remarked that neither partner received any salary during those difficult years. After selling stock to a group of doctors, they were able to raise $300,000. Using that capital investment, Stephens and his partner acquired a mutual insurance company, while spending what was left on a nationwide advertising campaign in hopes of getting the company off the ground. The advertising campaign succeeded, and RLI Corporation broke into positive numbers for the first time and has remained profitable ever since. RLI then became RLI Corporation, and eventually became the largest insurer of its kind in the entire world. Today, RLI operates out of branch offices located in all fifty states. Their success has become a barometer for how all other insurance companies of their type should be measured. However, profits and monetary success are only part of what makes RLI a Shining Light Company. The company’s commitment to values, people, and philanthropy sets them apart from the competition.

Core Values

References to the values of integrity, respect, and customer-focused service are prominent everywhere you look on the company’s website. Here are just a few quotes:

  • “We are people of integrity – We are true to our word – we do what we say we will do.”
  • “A powerful idea, serving is firmly rooted in the Bible. Putting the interest of others above our own will always pay dividends.”
  • “RLI is a company founded on the principles of the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
  • “Act with honor. Good judgment will always be your best friend. We trust you to act ethically and demand that others do the same.”
  • “While recognition of our financial performance is important, we measure our success on the service we provide and the relationships we build with our customers and brokers.”

As if these statements leave any doubt, here’s a quote from founder Gerald Stephens: “Give and Get Rich – Many call it the ‘Golden Rule.’ The Bible defines it: ‘As ye sow, so shall ye reap.’ The question is do you really believe it applies to you?” The Better Business Bureau has recognized this commitment as well, earning the company finalist honors for the BBB’s award for ethics.

Commitment to Employees

Continuous improvement and innovation are also major components of what RLI Corporation stands for. Employees are participants in the company’s Employee Stock Ownership Plan, which helps ensure that all employees create and drive the company’s success. Their talented underwriters have delivered profits in 31 of the last 35 years, including the last 16 consecutively. Combine this with their other financial management considerations and it’s no wonder they have received an A+ “Superior” rating from A.M. Best.

Philanthropy & Service

Operating in all 50 states from offices across the country, RLI is a strong supporter of the local community. When it comes to giving back, a matching fund donates dollar for dollar up to $3,000 per employee for contributions. RLI ranks as a top 10 organization is overall support of the community through the United Way. Also noteworthy is a $1 million contribution to the Milestone Project, the state-of-the-art healthcare services expansion project of Children’s Hospital of Illinois and OSF Saint Francis Medical Center.

To find out more about RLI Corporation and their commitment to excellence in all areas of business, visit

Final Thoughts

RLI Corporation has transformed the insurance industry, and they have built the company off a foundation of service and ethical values. Success is certainly an important aspect to consider when investing in a company, but values are what sustain corporations for the long haul. It is no wonder RLI was able to celebrate fifty years of service to their customers in 2015. We are proud to shine a light on this extraordinary values-driven company!


DISCLOSURE: Shining Lights companies are those companies we have identified as exemplary companies living out the Golden Rule and exhibiting the virtues of Integrity, Humility, Diligence, Caring and Courage. Special thanks to the dedicated team a  American Values Investments  (our excellent Large-Cap manager) for their significant research contribution on American Hero Companies, many of which we have adopted as Shining Lights! This is intended for general information purposes concerning only the values, corporate culture and business practices of the companies being spotlighted. It DOES NOT incorporate any analysis of the companies’ investment merit based on intrinsic value, fundamental analysis, etc. This must not be construed as investment advice or a buy/sell recommendation. These companies may or may not be included in our LightPoint Portfolios at any given time.