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Our History

For nine decades the name J.S. Johnson & Company Limited (J.S. Johnson) has been synonymous with insurance in The Bahamas. Yet the operation began almost as far removed from the world of insurance as possible. Founded in the mid 1800’s by Joseph Samuel Johnson, the original enterprise focused on growing sisal and canning pineapples. At the height of success in the canning industry, more than 75,000 cases of canned pineapples were produced per year. It was through the foresight and entrepreneurism of the Johnson family, Bahamian civic, business, and political leaders, that the opportunity to become involved in the insurance business was realized, thus establishing our position as the oldest and eventually the largest and one of the most respected insurance agencies in The Bahamas.

In 1919, the general manager of J.S. Johnson, Joseph Samuel’s nephew, W.C.B. Johnson, who also served as the Speaker of the House of Assembly, made a significant step in expanding the company’s range of business by arranging an agency with the Eagle Star Insurance Company Ltd., plc, in London, U.K. Once again, in 1927 he negotiated the first binding authority for a Bahamian operation to write insurance through Lloyd’s of London.

W.C.B Johnson’s son, Joseph S. Johnson, incorporated J.S. Johnson in 1959. At that time there was a staff of just four in the sole office on Elizabeth Avenue. Ten years later that number had grown to fifteen. In the next three decades, under the leadership of Mr. Charles Fernie, there was a period of tremendous growth in the insurance business and the company’s involvement in the canned goods industry was discontinued. This necessitated a move out of the Elizabeth Avenue office to a new location in Centreville House, just off Collin’s Avenue. In the 1980’s J.S. Johnson’s operation expanded to new locations in The Bahamas under the direction of Allan McGill, Managing Director from 1985 – 1989. New offices were opened in Nassau, on Thompson Boulevard, and in Grand Bahama, in Eight Mile Rock, which was relocated to Freeport, thereby increasing the availability of service to our valuable clients.

In 1986 the Board of Directors, under the chairmanship of Mr. Fernie, agreed to allow company shares to be traded publically, thus making it possible for the numerous Bahamian policyholders and the community to participate in ownership of the company for the first time.

In 1991 Mr. Marvin Bethell, the Managing Director, oversaw the opening of another family island branch in Marsh Harbour, Abaco and, in 1992, the acquisition of the insurance agency and brokerage business operated by Britam Brokers & Agents (Bahamas) Ltd. This enabled, in 1993, the movement of the head office from Centreville House to a magnificent two storey building on 34 Collins Avenue, where we remain today. In 1998 a significant milestone in our global thrust occurred with our first overseas venture as a J.S Johnson subsidiary in the Turks & Caicos Islands was established.

In 2001 we opened a new branch office in Nassau at the Mall at Marathon, which was recently relocated to Soldier Road north. In 2004 J.S. Johnson had the pleasure of entering the Exuma community with the opening of our Georgetown branch. In July, 2012 Mr. Alister McKellar took over the reigns as Managing Director.

Throughout the years J.S. Johnson has been the General Agent for some of the largest and most trusted insurance providers around the world, including Alliance Excess, Continental, Federal, the Insurance Company of North America, Eagle Star (for over 70 years) and General Accident, Fire and Life Assurance Corp., plc. However, after hurricane Andrew in 1992 and other tropical disturbances in the subsequent years, several multi-national companies withdrew from the region, leading the major local brokers to set-up local insurance companies. J.S. Johnson the formation of the Insurance Company of The Bahamas in 1997 was a significant development.

Today, we serve as the principal agent for the Insurance Company of The Bahamas Ltd., and also place business with Island Heritage Insurance Company Ltd., Lloyd’s of London and can access major insurance markets across the globe through AON, one of the largest brokers in the world.

There are currently over 160 staff members, many of whom have numerous years of experience and hold professional qualifications from insurance institutions in the United Kingdom and Canada. In fact, the company can boast of having the largest number of professionally qualified General Insurance staff in The Bahamas, many of whom are Bahamian, a far cry from a time when the only qualified insurance executives in the country were expatriates. We at J.S. Johnson are proud of our contribution to the growth and development of Bahamian Insurance Professionals, having assisted in the training of many, some of whom have moved on and hold key positions in several other companies.

J.S. Johnson maintains a network of branches throughout The Bahamas: three in Nassau, one each in Marsh Harbour, Freeport and Exuma, a subsidiary, J.S. Johnson & Company (Turks & Caicos) Ltd., in Providenciales, Turks & Caicos Islands and sub-agents on the Bahamian islands of Eleuthera, Harbour Island, Great Harbour Cay/Berry Islands and Andros. This enables J.S. Johnson to provide the best service possible for our customers, regardless of their location. There is also a fully staffed in-house Claims Department in the head office on Collins Avenue to handle the needs of clients as they arise.

Throughout the last nine decades the most valuable aspect of our operations has been the personal touch we give to every client. Our mission is to provide the highest quality of professional service by giving our personal best to our clients, our co-workers and the community at large, thus remaining the leader in the insurance market through continued growth and innovation.

We understand that our best interests lie in providing exemplary service to our clients and as we look to the future, we know that our talented team of management and staff will uphold the standards on which J.S Johnson is built, loyalty and integrity to our thousands of clients, many of whom have been with the company for decades, and our numerous shareholders whose confidence in J.S. Johnson propel us to even greater heights. Place your business in our hands and you can look forward to “Peace of Mind”.