There’s a saying: “Out of every good comes some bad and out of every bad, comes some good,” and (Valley) Farmers Mutual Fire Insurance Company was the good that came from the unfortunate situation of farmers/ranchers in the early 1900’s, not being able to obtain fire/lightning insurance in Valley County (Sheridan) for the fiduciary reason that by the time the fire department from town arrived at a fire in the rural areas, the property was a total loss. “Valley” was later removed from the company name when the county name/s and boundaries changed. In 1919 Roosevelt County was added for coverage and in 1920 the newly created county of Daniels was also added.
On Saturday, May 22, 1909, a group gathered at the school house at Section 21, Range 33, Township 57 (Dagmar area) for the purpose of organizing a mutual insurance company under the Mutual Insurance Law of the State of Montana (Senate Bill # 30) of 1907. FMIC was the third farm mutual to be organized after Flathead Farm Mutual Insurance Company (Kalispell) in 1907, Fergus Farm Mutual (Lewistown) in 1908. Niels Christensen was elected chairman of the meeting and Edvig Rasmussen, secretary. with the following directors: Niels Christensen, Edvig Rasmussen, Jens Hansen, Jorgen Nielsen, Jorgen Jorgensen, Peter Henriksen, Robert Smith, P.A. Petersen, and Geo. C. Johnson. At the first directors meeting Geo. C. Johnson was elected president, Edvig Rasmussen secretary, and Jorgen Nielsen treasurer.
Interesting observations of the underwriting stipulations for 1909 were: No horse or mule shall be insured for more than $100; no ox for more than $50; no cow for more than $30, no hog for more than $8, no sheep for more than $3 and no wires will be allowed to be connected with buildings insured by this company. (In 1910, this was amended to: No wires, except telephone wires were allowed to be connected to buildings insured by this company.) 1920 brought the acceptance of telephone and electric wires in houses insured by FMFIC. The
Secretary of the Company noted the conditions of the banks not to be safe in 1930. In 1931 when the Directors determined to withdraw the FMIC’s money, they were told if they even withdrew half, it would close the bank. 1939 a meeting to organize all the Farm Mutuals in the state provided the Montana Association of Mutual Insurance Companies. This is a valuable source for sharing ideas, Congressional Contacts, and Continuing Education at MAMIC Annual Meetings. Donna Brekke, FMFIC’s Manager has served as Secretary/Treasurer of the Montana Association and Montana’s Advisory Council Member to the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies since 1996. August of 1994 FMFIC went from a County Insurer to a State Insurer, allowing FMFIC to insure property anywhere in the state of Montana.
Home-based businesses seem like a new concept, yet Farmers Mutual was located in the Secretary’s’ homes in/near Dagmar from FMFIC’s inception in 1909 until 1983. The last home office was in Donald Thuesen’s home from 1958 to 1983 when it was moved to 102 E. First Avenue, the office in the NE corner of the Boyer Barber Shop Building now known as Euphoria/Attitudes to provide a more central location for policy holders. (Donald took over from his father, Peter, who also served for years) Donald was a valuable source of information. He knew the history behind the insurance. More space was needed so in 1994, FMFIC moved across the street to 105 E First Avenue, now occupied by the Investment Center. In 2005 Stockman Bank wanted to buy our building for possible expansion, so when we looked at the available Kemp Building at 572 West First Avenue, it seemed as though it was custom built for our needs so we moved in on Halloween, and continue to reside at this location.
Insurance coverage’s have been expanded to include Extended Coverage’s such as wind, hail, tornado, smoke, explosion, broken water lines, and many such related risks, as well as Theft & Vandalism, H20/Sewer Back Up, Casualty/Liability, and Rock Ingestion for combines. Competition encouraged Farmers Mutual to expand coverage’s. It should be noted that Harold C. Nielsen worked diligently to get House Bill #98 passed which laid the ground work for Farm Mutuals to sell casualty insurance and also Senate Bill #277 which allows Farm Mutuals to insure in towns with populations 15,000+. Farmers Mutual was asked to be an agency/representative for Blue Cross Blue Shield in this area in 1968 and this was under the direction of Nick (Harold) Nielsen for years until he retired in 1997 and Kermit Sorensen assumed the position
The insurance in Force in 1910 was $124,180 with losses of $101 and the highest risk $1,500 in comparison to 2010 (100 years later): Insurance in Force was $240,180,232 with the losses of $1,042,279 and the highest single risk of $538,000 and 1,495 policies in force. Expanded reinsurance programs have enabled FMFIC to raise the insurance risks.
Celebrating FMFIC’s centennial was an extraordinary experience and we thank everyone who had a part in it this Montana company’s success and learning process. Third and fourth generations have continued to insure with FMFIC, who appreciate knowing they are insured with a Montana Company surviving the tests of time since 1909. We know our policyholders as our neighbors and friends and not just a number. Our local policyholders serve on our Board and help us realize the insurance needs of our communities. We can’t begin to imagine what the future holds but we look forward to providing for the insurance needs of our policyholders in the years ahead.