Founded in 1925 as Golden State Guarantee Fund Insurance Company, the company went on to become the third largest black-owned financial services company in America. Insurance salesman and publisher William Nickerson, Jr arrived in Los Angeles to discover to his dismay that almost none of the 16,000 African-Americans there were able to get life insurance policies. Without the means to hire a lawyer Nickerson studied law himself in order to discover California’s requirements to create a corporation which would be able to meet the insurance needs of blacks in the state. With the help of businessman George A. Beavers, Jr and insurance salesman Norman O. Houston, Nickerson was able to get 500 pre-paid life insurance applications in addition to the deposit of $15,000 which California required. Houston raised the money, and Beavers located the 500 blacks that were willing to pay premiums for a company not yet in existence.
The company expanded quickly, going from a one-room office on Central Avenue in 1925 with $17,800 in capital to $2 million in assets, $740,000 in surplus funds and $24 million in policies by the end of World War II.
In 1970 Norman B. and Ivan J. Houston, Norman O’s sons, took over leadership of Golden State Mutual, continuing to expand the company despite hard financial times. In the 1980s Golden State Mutual was have a hard time maintaining profitability. On September 20, 2009 Steve Poizner, the California Insurance Commissioner, placed Golden State Mutual into conservation.