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Around The Grange
The beginnings of Patrons Mutual Insurance

By Todd Gelineau, CT State Grange Secretary

  JANUARY 7, 2018 --

In the January 2018 issue of the CT Granger, we look back at an organization created by the Connecticut State Grange which today seems like an impossible undertaking by any fraternal organization... Patrons Mutual Insurance Company.

The following was written by Ira Wilcox on the occasion of the 75th Anniversary of the company in 1962.

When our forefathers, the Pilgrims came to the bleak coast of New England to set up for themselves a new way of life, they operated under a plan known as the “Mayflower Compact”.  This was a signed agreement which had been drawn up during their long and tedious voyage to America.  This plan was sometimes called the "Common-Effort" Plan.  Each was supposed to contribute all their efforts proportionally for the Common Cause and each was supposed to receive equally from the Common Cause.  Human nature being what it is, the lazy and indolent were rewarded by contributing little, but, gaining much in return.

Upon closer examination of that "Pact", one finds it is a pure and simple form of Communistic Government.  The "Pact" was soon proved a dismal failure, for it was given up after three heart breaking trial years.  The experiment of this nearly fatal failure taught the American people one everlasting lesson.  It was replaced by Free Enterprise.

Thus this failure, insured the means, some 264 years later, that such a Company as the Patrons Mutual Fire Insurance of Connecticut could be organized.

The Granges of the State of Connecticut were the parents of this Company.  Its actual conception took place on December 1, 1885, when, C.C. Lord, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Conn. State Grange incorporated the following in his annual report: – "Two sessions of this Committee were held since June 24th (the date the Second Conn. State Grange was organized), one at West Torrington and one at Suffield.  The Committee has decided that Grange Fire Insurance would be a practical thing for Connecticut."

One year later, its birth was formally announced on December 7, 1886, when the following resolutions were presented to the State Grange from Senexet Grange No. 40 in Woodstock by George Austin Bowen, M.D., who represented Woodstock Grange as their delegate:  "By the Patrons of Senexet Grange, Resolved, That we are in favor of making a vigorous and determined effort to obtain from the next General Assembly such Legislation as may be necessary in order to secure the benefits of cooperative Grange Insurance to the Patrons of Husbandry of this State:  and to that end we hereby pledge to the State Grange our hearty and united cooperation and support.  Resolved: That these resolutions be presented to the State Grange at its next annual meeting.  The above resolutions were passed unanimously by Senexet Grange No. 40, November 24, 1886.  Attest, Signed:  Lewis J. Wells, Secretary."

In order that the reader get the proper interpretation, it may be well to pause here and make a few comments; here were a group of ordinary citizens, one a medical doctor, another one a merchant, and the rest all farmers, none of whom ever had, either any training or experience in the highly organized field of insurance, but, willing to devote their energy and time, their loyalty freely given without question and their moderate means placed at the disposal whenever needed in order that a fraternal fire insurance company might be started; and to top it all off, with little or no recompense for their time.  These characteristics, though hidden, turn more wheels, than the eye can measure or the mind register.  They had their wits and the will to labor long and diligently with an uncrushable spirit.

Our story is not one of longevity, or 75 years is not a long period in the insurance field, nor, is it one of success alone- but of the success of a small company in a changing world.  Its story is not one of spectacular growth.  Nor is its history distinguished by the introduction of revolutionary innovations, although it has contributed its share of original methods.  In the Insurance Industry, many giants have sprung up by rapid expansion, acquisition or merger, not so, the Patrons Company, for theirs is a story of slow progressive growth.  The special significance of the Patrons Company is that it illustrates how a small concern can produce a special type of insurance for a special need - furnish its agents with proper tools and "know how" to work with- slowly and steadily increase its assets - all in a highly competitive, fast changing insurance world, against stalwarts which dwarf it - without any support from a paternalistic government.

The prime purpose of this company is to provide a safe and sound insurance coverage for its own members, that is, members of the Grange and their families residing within their household.  This naturally restricts the amount of insurance written, but the quality of the risk has proven through the years to be above the average found on other insurance company books.  Its second purpose is to help build and maintain Grange membership.

Since 1959, this company has expanded into three other states outside of Connecticut:  Massachusetts, Florida and West Virginia. 

When the company was formed in 1887 and for many years thereafter, the type of policy written was assessable and like the human we have likened this company to, it has been subject to human frailties, error and misfortune.  During its history, four assessments have been levied.  Today, the type of policy written is non-assessable.  With the exception of these four periods of difficulty, this Company has steadily grown in insurance in force, and now it is one of the prominent Mutual Companies in this State.

Patrons Mutual Insurance was absorbed by State Auto of Ohio in 2007.  While the name may still be used by State Auto, it no longer has any affiliation with the Grange.


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