Message to Policyholders
Almost 20 years before the first shot of the Civil War rang out, a group of local business owners, farmers, and home owners came together to form The Mutual Fire Insurance Company in Harford County. Understanding the importance of protecting the financial well-being and livelihood of their neighbors and fellow citizens, these Harford County visionaries established our company on the same foundation and principles of mutuality set forth by Benjamin Franklin in forming The Philadelphia Contributionship in 1752, the oldest insurance company in America. Like Franklin, their altruistic motives afforded individual and communal security during our nation’s infancy and embarked upon a legacy that continues into our 175th year.
The Maryland Legislature granted our charter in November 1842. From the very beginning, our reliance on the steadfast principles of conservatism, long-range vision, and community for the protection of our policyholders would sustain our newly formed company, not only through the impending Civil War, but through the Great Depression, World Wars I and II, natural catastrophes and the growing pains of an evolving country. In April 1947, we changed our name to The Harford Mutual Insurance Company to better reflect our broadening business scope. While always firmly planted in the Town of Bel Air, we moved up and down Main Street several times over the years due to growth before breaking ground at our current location in 1952.
Over the past decade, the company has enjoyed tremendous success as we have evolved and expanded to meet the needs of our policyholders and agency partners in an ever-changing economy. This momentum has coupled with our focused initiatives, resulting in our 10th underwriting profit in the past 12 years. And while revenue has increased $14 million, 8.4% in 2016 and $72 million, 64% over the past five years, it is the steady and significant escalation of the policyholders’ surplus that we are most proud of accomplishing. Fueled by a 95.0 net combined ratio for 2016, surplus grew by $15 million, 7.8% to eclipse the $200 million mark for the first time in our history. The year-ending $208.6 million of surplus represents a $100 million, 93% increase over the past 10 years.
As with all years, 2016 was not without its own set of unique challenges that must be met with fortitude and resolve. Our risk mitigation and position of strength brought us through instances of claim severity throughout the year, including $20 million in direct losses as a result of the devastating wildfire in the Gatlinburg area of Tennessee in late November. While our impact was a small percentage of the near $1 billion in insured losses, it represented the largest catastrophe in the company’s history. Our commitment to the success of the impacted families, businesses, and community extended beyond insurance payments. I was proud to represent Harford Mutual as we presented $20,000 to the East Tennessee Chapter of the American Red Cross, who provided care and shelter to thousands during and after the tragedy.
While lasting legacies have been initiated by a single individual, the success that makes it a reality and propels it forward comes from the united effort of many. Guided by a dedicated management team and the wisdom of our board of directors, Harford Mutual’s recent and future achievements are truly made possible by our phenomenal and talented employees who uphold our core principles and values as they affiliate with our valued agents in serving our policyholders. I thank you for your steadfast support and the crucial role you play in our success.
Since I opened by referencing Benjamin Franklin and his influence on the company’s formation, I thought it only appropriate to quote him as we celebrate our history and look forward to continuing this astonishing mission and legacy…
Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.
This clearly and succinctly defines our vision as we close another very profitable and accomplished year, never resting as we continue to execute the strategies of mutual success that expand and strengthen Harford Mutual’s legacy for the next 175 years.
Steven D. Linkous
President and Chief Executive Officer