History

Red River Mutual started as the Mennonite Insurance Organization. Formed in 1875, our mandate was to help protect the interests of the Mennonite people who immigrated to Western Canada from Russia in the early 1870’s.

These early immigrants settled on farms and hamlets that had no fire protection. Stock insurance companies were reluctant to provide insurance on unprotected risks and would charge very high premiums or decline to insure these risks altogether. Seeing a need to share fire losses, the Mennonite people formed the Mennonite Insurance Organization. Mennonite churches operated the organization until 1941 when it became incorporated as a mutual insurance company.

Historical Highlights

1875-1941

  • No reserves were carried
  • All officers of the organization worked without remuneration
  • Premium assessment charged to the members was in direct relation to the loss experience
  • Yearly rates were established by an assessor appointed by the church
  • Rates fluctuated depending on loss experience during the year
  • Insurance rates were announced in all churches well in advance of collection time, allowing members to put aside their insurance premium
  • In the late 1930′s, the Department of Insurance asked the organization to incorporate
  • Applied for letters patent in November, 1940
  • In February, 1941 a charter was granted to the Red River Valley Mutual Insurance Company and the company was granted a license to operate as a mutual insurance company in Manitoba

1940′s

  • The company’s head office was established at the farm of H.D. Penner, Plum Coulee in 1941. Mr. Penner also served as the first secretary treasurer.
  • The company began issuing policies in 1941 and had premium revenue of $12,000
  • Red River Mutual incurred its first claim on March 1, 1942 in the amount of $15.00
  • The company’s head office was moved from Plum Coulee to Altona in 1942, where it was established in the former Bergthaler Waisenamt Building

1950′s

  • Property values escalated in the 1950′s and the company was too small to underwrite these larger risks on its own
  • In 1953, the company entered into a reinsurance contract with Lloyd’s of London, allowing us to write these larger risks and better serve the needs of our policyholders
  • Southern Manitoba experienced 12 hours of gale force winds on June 7, 1954 with wind speeds up to 90 m.p.h., leading to 600 claims and a pay-out of approximately $40,000
  • A new head office building was built at the corner of 4th Avenue N.E. and 2nd Street in Altona in 1956

1960′s

  • The Canadian Mennonite Mutual Insurance Company merged with the Red River Valley Mutual Insurance Company in 1965
  • This was also the year Red River Mutual began underwriting commercial risks
  • In 1966, we celebrated Red River Mutual’s 25th Anniversary, with a premium revenue of $214,000
  • In 1967, we applied for and received an expanded license that enabled us to write much broader coverages
  • Package policies were developed for residential and farm properties, providing broad coverages on both buildings and personal property
  • Public liability coverage was made available

1970′s

  • The Manitoba Insurance Act required mutual insurance companies to put up an onerous statutory reserve, impeding growth and profits
  • Red River Mutual lobbied the Manitoba Government to do away with the statutory reserve and requested that mutuals be required to set up the same reserves as were required by federally licensed companies
  • This important legislation was passed in 1977
  • The company outgrew its head office building on 4th Avenue N.E. in Altona and established a new head office building on Centre Avenue in 1978

1980′s

  • Our company installed its first computer (IBM System 34) in 1980 to replace its one-write accounting system and to provide improved statistical information
  • This was a period of rapid growth for Red River Mutual

1990′s

  • Rapid growth of the company during the 1980′s required additional staff that soon filled our head office building to capacity
  • The head office building was expanded in 1990, doubling the size of the building
  • The need to install an automated policy management system became apparent as our policy count kept growing
  • A new customized insurance software package was purchased and new hardware was installed to run this program in 1992
  • Record rainfall hit Manitoba from July 24 to August 14, 1993, creating a major catastrophe for the Insurance Industry as the storm/sewer system in Winnipeg and other southern Manitoba communities could not handle the 287.6mm (11.3″) of rainfall that fell during that period
  • Red River Mutual incurred 1,388 sewer backup claims from this downpour and paid claims totaling $11,098,000
  • The Manitoba Mennonite Mutual Insurance Company of Steinbach merged with Red River Valley Mutual Insurance Company on May 1, 1997
  • On January 1, 1999, Red River Mutual became an owning member of the Farm Mutual Reinsurance Plan Inc. (FMRP), allowing us to provide reinsurance coverage as well as unlimited property catastrophe coverage
  • In an effort to obtain a better geographic spread of risk, the company applied for, and obtained, a license to sell general insurance in Saskatchewan. This license was obtained in the spring of 1999 and the company started writing business in Saskatchewan soon thereafter

2000′s

  • Excellent growth performance led to the need for further expansion in 2008
  • Our staff grew to more than 100 strong over the 2000s