JOHNSTOWN - Fulmont Mutual Insurance Company, 2240 Route 29, Johnstown, celebrated its 160th anniversary this week with a ceremony at its office.
Fulmont Mutual was established at a meeting of 18 local farmers and businessmen in 1853 as the Fulton & Montgomery Counties Farmers Mutual Fire Insurance Association.
The company's first president was Col. James Canary.
Sherwood, left, and Warren Canary of Ephratah, the great-great-great grandson of the first president of Fulmont Mutual in 1853, Col. James Canary, cuts the cake
during the celebration. (The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan)
Policies when the company was first established were called certificates, and the 105 member policyholders were each a co-owner of the company, according to the website, www.fulmontmutual.com.
They paid into a common fund to indemnify each other against loss by fire.
"In the beginning, fortitude and explicit trust was required of members for they had to bear a common financial responsibility for the success and stability of their joint venture. This practice was referred to as 'Mutual Aid,' but later became the definition of a 'Mutual Insurance Company,'" according to the website.
The company followed an "assessment form of rating," so members were only assessed when it was necessary to cover losses and expenses.
The first assessment - 40 cents for each $1,000 in coverage -was made in 1855, so policyholders went two years with free insurance, the website said.
According to the website, the "sense of community responsibility" when a fire occurred helped keep expenses down since people would provide free labor for rebuilding property that was damaged in a fire.
Since then, the company converted to an Advance Premium Mutual Company. Classified ratings in lieu of a single rate is now being used, and the premium is billed once a year on the anniversary of the policy, according to the website.