Security and Service since 1908




History

Saskatchewan Mutual Insurance Company takes pride in its grass roots origin, which reflects the very history of its home province. The history of SMI dates back to 1908, with the founding of the Saskatoon Mutual Fire Insurance Company by a group of farmers from such communities as Viscount, Purdue, Last Mountain, Delisle, St. Benedict and North Battleford, as well as Saskatoon. Today, SMI does business all over western Canada and is the largest mutual property and casualty insurance company with headquarters in Saskatchewan.

SMI got its start at a time when insurance was neither easily accessible nor affordable. A group of farmers decided to take matters into their own hands and set up an insurance company to help protect themselves and their friends and neighbours against losses from fire, specifically livestock and building losses. The first meeting to formally establish the company was held on January 30, 1908 when about ten farmers got together at a private home in Saskatoon and decided to gather a little more information before they would make their next move. They all threw a little bit in the hat and one of them was sent to Portage la Prairie and Wawanesa, Manitoba to study how mutual fire insurance was run there.

Less than two weeks later, at a meeting in a church hall, the company became a reality. Thirty-two farmers signed guarantees totaling $43,000 and elected a thirteen-member Board of Directors to officially launch the new "Saskatoon Mutual Fire Insurance Company." According to the official minutes of the meeting, eleven people put up $56 (most of them threw in $5 each) to pay for supplies for the meeting. The rental of the hall came to $2.

The future held a lot of promise. And promise literally played a key role in the company's formative years.

They really never had any cash in the bank to start with. It was all based on the premium note concept where you signed a promissory note and paid later. So, at the end of the year, based on losses incurred, the company would assess how much everyone had to pay, and the farmer would pay after he sold his crop.

The whole idea behind the mutual company was to operate on a break-even basis much like a co-operative. It didn't take long for the fledgling Saskatoon Mutual Fire Insurance Company to do more than break even.

In its first year of operation it was providing coverage of almost $2.4 million dollars for nearly twenty-four hundred policyholders. Just eight years later, by 1916, insurance coverage totaled close to $13 million dollars for ten thousand farmers.

The company records for 1916 show claims paid that year amounted to $22,000 - including $70 for fire damage to a barn and granary (caused by a horse kicking over a lantern); $150 for a horse killed by lightning, but only $13.35 for a calf that met its end the same way; $600 for four horses destroyed by a prairie fire; and $47.50 for windstorm damage to a barn.

As the company grew it was able to offer expanded insurance coverage. By 1918, insurance coverage was available for damage by fire, lightning, prairie fire and windstorm, to farm buildings, livestock and grain in storage bins.

In 1919, the company changed its name to "Saskatchewan Farmers Mutual Fire Insurance Company." While the new name was a lot more unwieldy than the original, the directors obviously thought it better described the company's scope, clientele and purpose. By now it was also offering coverage for a wider variety of perils, and had added rural schools and churches to its list of insurable properties. And, as telephone service became more available across the prairies, the new gadget was also included, provided the telephone had been installed in a farm dwelling.

Until 1927, SMI operated only in Saskatchewan. But that year, for the first time, the company decided to expand its territory and moved into Alberta, adding more policyholders to its client base. A few years later it diversified into automobile insurance, which helped the company get through the harsh reality of the 1930's, the decade that ushered in soup kitchens, broken dreams and clouds of dust.

The great depression caused the company to look at new ways of collecting premiums. In 1932, the premium note plan changed, requiring policyholders to pay 25% of their notes in advance, with annual assessments on the first and second anniversary dates of the policy.

The 1933 name change to "Saskatchewan Mutual Fire Insurance Company" reflected the company's continued diversification. By 1936, service had expanded into British Columbia, and into Manitoba by 1939.

At this time, Saskatchewan Mutual Fire Insurance Company was the largest writer of private passenger car insurance in western Canada.

As the conflict of World War II surrounded the globe, policyholders could look to the company with confidence. The company's 1944 Annual Report shows total premium income had reached a new high, with significant surplus of assets over liabilities. One of the company's investments that year was the purchase of $200,000 in 1944 Victory Loans.

The diversification of the company continued with the expansion of coverage for new classes of business policies.

In 1950, Saskatchewan Mutual Fire Insurance Company obtained its Dominion Charter, a federal license enabling the insurance company to write insurance policies anywhere in Canada.

One year later, the company's final name change was instituted, becoming "Saskatchewan Mutual Insurance Company."

Throughout the sixties, seventies and eighties, Saskatchewan Mutual Insurance Company continued to be a leader in the general insurance industry, working for the benefit of the company's policyholders.

In 1969, the company moved to its present headquarters at 279 - 3rd Avenue North in Saskatoon.

With the introduction of its new corporate logo in 1992, Saskatchewan Mutual Insurance Company began to be commonly referred to as "SMI".

SMI is still owned by its policyholders and offers home, farm and commercial property coverage as well as automobile insurance. Written premiums at the end of 2015 totaled $66.8 million dollars. Because of its operating structure, there are no shareholders to reap any windfalls. Profits are reinvested to help keep premium rates low for policyholders.

The company has remained successful over the years and has never lost sight of its primary objective set out in 1908 - to provide the best service it possibly could to its policyholders.


                  This company was issued a secure rating by the A.M. Best Company, click for additional details

Saskatchewan Mutual Insurance Company
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