Schmidt to step down at Mutual

Major changes are coming to Enumclaw Insurance Group, it was announced this week.

Major changes are coming to Enumclaw Insurance Group, it was announced this week.

In a Monday morning letter, Gerald P. “Gerry” Schmidt announced he will be stepping down from his post as president and chief executive officer of the company. He is only the 10th leader for the 111-year-old company and has been at the helm for 16 years.

Following an established succession process, EIG’s board of trustees voted to promote Eric Nelson to CEO effective Jan. 29, 2010, the day of the company’s annual policyholder meeting. That will be Schmidt’s final day, though he will remain on the board of trustees.

The company started in 1898 when a group of Enumclaw residents got together to create the Farmers’ Mutual Insurance Company. The articles of incorporation stated that the purpose of the organization was “to insure farm and village buildings and personal property against loss by fire and lightning.” Funding was provided by assessment of the members to restore property after catastrophic loss.

During the next 45 years, the company slowly expanded. In 1943, extended coverage perils were added to the fire and lightening coverage previously provided. In 1947 the company began to write nonfarm properties. A year later, casualty insurance was added to the portfolio of offerings putting Farmers’ Mutual Insurance Company on an equal footing with other companies for the first time.

In 1952 the states of Oregon and Idaho were added to the service area. At this point the company was writing approximately $2 million in premiums. Ten years later Farmers’ Mutual merged with the Butteville Insurance Company of Woodburn, Ore., which brought total writings to $5 million. The company also began writing commercial insurance in 1963.

On May 1, 1966, the name of the company was changed to Mutual of Enumclaw Insurance Company.

Growth continued through the years and in the summer of 2002, the company expanded to Utah.

Enumclaw Property and Casualty Insurance Company was launched in Washington in December 2002 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Mutual of Enumclaw Insurance Company. The new company was established to facilitate new marketing opportunities in both personal and commercial lines of insurance.

As of December 31, 2008, Enumclaw Property and Casualty had more than $23 million in written premiums while Mutual of Enumclaw Insurance Company’s written premiums totaled more than $300 million.

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