James Littleton, founder, President, CEO, and stockholder of Empathy Claims had a dream of starting a business of his own, at least as far back as when he started entrepreneurial lawn cutting and snow shoveling when he was 10 years old or so. The dream continued as James was courting his future wife, Kathleen, while working at United Parcel Service at the beginning of the 1980s. James would talk to her about his dream of starting his own business.
James grew up on the south side of Chicago. His highest education level is high school graduate. James worked for a year after high school as a janitor in a downtown office building in 1976. In 1977, he began work at UPS as a loader of trucks. James was eventually promoted to supervisor there. In 1982, James was given an opportunity to do part-time work on the side for an independent insurance adjusting firm in Chicago. They then hired James full time as a claims adjuster and investigator, and he learned and worked there for the next twelve years.
James married Kathleen on August 6, 1983. Kathleen went on to achieve her Juris Doctorate in February 1984 and they started a family shortly thereafter. In 1994, James and Kathleen already had seven children (eventually growing to nineteen children, fourteen living with five in heaven), so James decided to take a risk.
James left a reasonably high paying job to start his own independent insurance claims adjusting company, now known as Empathy Claims, in August 1994 as a better means to support his family and, eventually, have more time to spend with them. James and Kathleen consecrated the company to Jesus through the Blessed Virgin Mary. They have always experienced divine assistance and have strived to operate the business with integrity.
This was a tremendous risk. James started with zero clients. He sublet an office from a mortgage company and began marketing from scratch. He called hundreds of insurance companies on the phone and visited as many as he could, knocking on doors across the country, and eventually brought some initial business into the company where James handled the claims himself while his wife, Kathleen, typed the reports.
Within three months, James was turning a small profit, so he began hiring help. What is now Empathy Claims started out as a regional company beginning in Illinois and surrounding states. The company gradually grew over time to become a nation-wide organization, handling claims in all 50 states and further, expanding into additional countries for clients based in the United States and around the world.
Empathy Claims proudly serves over eight hundred client insurance carriers and self-insured companies, as well as hundreds more when accounting for the individual representatives at those organizations who are also clients of Empathy Claims.
The company motto is “Service with Empathy™,” which Empathy Claims inculcates to its staff and believes and lives out every day in service to the countless insureds, claimants, witnesses, clients, etc. who greatly depend on their daily service.
Empathy Claims carries out its service as part of a critical infrastructure as indicated by the Department of Homeland Security and as an essential business under Illinois state policy.
Over the decades, Kathleen and James Littleton, 100% co-owners of Empathy Claims, have shed blood, sweat, and tears in driving the business forward. They have pivoted in various changing circumstances, insurance industry changes, and adversities, such as James Littleton’s diagnosis of leukemia in 2009, his treatment including numerous chemotherapies, his bone marrow transplant, and some degree of ongoing treatment ever since.
Through all these challenges and more, Empathy Claims persevered, thanks to God’s ever-present help.
Empathy Claims has a deep sense of obligation to give back to the community because of all the blessings they have received. James and Kathleen donate tens of thousands of dollars annually in support of numerous charitable organizations, including, for example, providing a college scholarship to a young person on the South Side of Chicago in the hopes of helping others and bettering our community; and providing approximately $7,400 in grocery store gift cards to those suffering from the economic fallout of COVID-19.
Over recent years Kathleen devotes much of her time to non-profit work as well as to her family.
James and Kathleen Littleton are thankful for their beautiful family. Many of their children have already earned college, graduate and post-graduate degrees while the remainder are currently in the process of completing their higher education goals. The Littletons are blessed with twelve grandchildren and counting, plus three in heaven.
Empathy Claims is blessed to provide salaries, health benefits, and 401-k to dozens of W-2 employees and their families. Empathy Claims also provides income to over 600 partner vendors throughout the United States, as well as other countries. The Littleton family and Empathy Claims have a great desire to continue their work, service, and legacy for generations to come.