The Patrons Co-operative Fire Insurance Company was organized on June 14, 1915, by Abram W. Foote of Cornwall, a prominent businessman — and later, a Vermont lieutenant governor — who liked to help his neighbors. At first, only members of the Grange who lived in Addison County could buy insurance from the company. But the Patrons was so successful that it was writing insurance statewide by 1917.
The Farmers Co-operative Fire Insurance Company, formed in 1924, offered insurance to non-Grangers. Edward H. Peet was elected president, and Foote was named secretary.
Charles Foote, son of Abram Foote, organized the Rural Co-operative Fire Insurance Company in Wallingford in 1933.
By 1938, the Patrons, Farmers, and Rural wrote a combined $75 million in insurance. They had become so successful and popular with Vermont farmers that they insured roughly half of all farms in the state!
Having such a large percentage of business concentrated in a relatively small geographic area was not such a great insurance strategy: all the proverbial eggs were in one basket. Devastating damage by a hurricane in November 1950 proved the biggest turning point in the companies’ histories. In the end, the hurricane caused more than 4,000 wind claims, severely straining the companies’ ability to pay claims.
For financial and efficiency reasons, the three individual companies decided to form an association — Co-operative Fire Insurance Association of Vermont — in December 1951. The new association wrote its first policy on February 15, 1952. The pooling of resources was beneficial and resulted in an extended period of rapid growth.
The name of this association was used until December 31, 1997, when it became Co-operative Insurance Companies, a name that reflects both our heritage and our current mission.
Co-op Corporate Structure
The board of directors worked to modernize Co-op’s corporate structure. In October, 2014, Co-op members were given the opportunity to vote on a proposal to streamline the association and its three co-ops into a single entity doing business as Co-operative Insurance Companies. The proxy voting period ended on October 21 with a special meeting, and the proposal was approved by the membership in the vote.
The merger simply combined our multiple legal entities into a single corporation, with no effect on the interests of any policyholder member and no financial effect (positive or negative) for any member, employee, director, agent, or other party.
The merger was finalized at the end of 2014, and we are once again Patrons Co-operative Fire Insurance Company, doing business as Co-operative Insurance Companies.