The Mutual Service Office was founded by J.R. Harris of the Franklin Mutual Insurance Co. as a private venture as an alternative to the "stock" bureau, The Schedule Rating Office of New Jersey. On August 24, 1944, ownership of the Mutual Service Office was changed upon incorporation, to the stockholders representing the following companies:
Franklin Mutual Insurance Company
Mercer County Mutual Insurance Company
Warren County Mutual Insurance Company
New Brunswick Mutual Insurance Company
Farmers Mutual of Three Bridges
Farmers Mutual Insurance Association of Washington
Hillsborough Mutual Fire Assurance Association
Cumberland Mutual Fire Insurance Company
These original MSO companies were joined by Sussex County Mutual Insurance company in 1946 and Shrewsbury Mutual Insurance Company in 1947. Farmers Mutual Fire Insurance Company of Salem County and Farmers Reliance Insurance Company became members of The Mutual Service Office in 1956. In the early 1960's several New England mutuals joined MSO to gain a competitive edge over the companies using the "stock" bureau, Fire Insurance Rating Organization of N.J. However, once the insurance laws in New Jersey were changed to allow a company to deviate from Bureau programs, the New England mutuals left MSO.
The original executive office of The Mutual Service Office was established in the First National Bank Building, 125 Ellison Street, Paterson by the first Manager, Edwin A. Botbyl. The rent for the office space was $25 per month. Postage stamps at the time cost 1 1/2 cents. The office staff consisted of Mr. Botbyl, two full time clerks and one person conducting town protection surveys. Salaries paid in 1947 on a weekly basis were $60, $35, and $40 respectively. The building inspections needed were provided by West Jersey Inspection Service until MSO hired its first inspector, Albert G. Moore, in 1948. Following Albert Moore's leaving to work for Farmers Mutual of Three Bridges, the second inspector hired was Eric Turner. After Eric Turner left to work for Mercer Mutual Insurance Company, Robert Treuvey was hired as the inspector. Both Mr. Moore and Mr. Turner returned to MSO as members of the Board of Directors representing their respective companies. Mr. Ephraim Carll, who retired as a Board member in 1996, attended his first MSO Board meeting as a guest representing Cumberland Mutual Fire Insurance Company on August 17, 1945.
During the early years, the Board of Directors met on a monthly basis and had a direct involvement in the day to day operations of the Mutual Service Office. Most of the concerns acted upon by the Board were regarding rules, rates, and coverages for farm properties. The rating system used by MSO was developed by J.R. Harris, the founder of the original The Mutual Service Office of Branchville. The Schedule Rating System in use today is an updated version of the system developed by Mr. Harris. Of the original companies, four New Jersey mutuals remain, the others were either merged into one of the remaining companies or went out of business. The remaining New Jersey mutual companies are all included in the top 250 mutual companies by size in the U.S.
The Management of the Mutual Service Office has been:
Edwin A. Botbyl . . . . . General Manager . . . . . 1945-1947
A. Halsey Decker . . . . General Manager . . . . . 1948-1958
Robert W. Treuvey . . . President . . . . . . . . . . . 1959-1981
Robert Daino . . . . . . . Executive Vice President . . . 1981
Michael D. Ruback . . . President . . . . . . . . . . . 1981-1990
James W. Townley . . . President . . . . . . . . . . . 1990-2012
Janice L. Scites . . . . . CEO & President . . . . 2007-present
The Mutual Service Office remained in the Paterson area through to the present. After leaving 125 Ellison Street, the office moved to 115 Market Street, Paterson and in 1964 to 126 Goffle Road, Hawthorne. In 1970 MSO purchased its first office building at 179 Lafayette Avenue, Hawthorne, where it remained until space and parking requirements forced a move to larger quarters. MSO has occupied its current office at 139 Harristown Road, Glen Rock since 1989. For several years a field office was located in southern New Jersey in the Medford area until closing in 1980.
The Mutual Service Office continued to operate in New Jersey and expanded its operations to Pennsylvania in 1983. At this time a group of mutual companies in Pennsylvania were looking for an alternative to the "stock" bureau, Insurance Services Office. Following the entry into Pennsylvania, MSO obtained a license to operate as a rating bureau in Maryland and Delaware.
In 1993, The Mutual Service Office, Inc. was reorganized as a nonprofit corporation under the name of MSO, Inc. The name The Mutual Service Inc. is still being used as a trade name to hold the ties to the origin of the company. MSO obtained a license to operate as an advisory bureau in Virginia in 1994, and in Indiana in 1998.
MSO, Inc. provides member companies with property and casualty programs covering all lines of insurance except private passenger automobile, boiler & machinery and workers' compensation. The main thrust of the product development and product enhancement activities of MSO is to produce programs that are easy to use, competitive and easily customized by the client company. – less–ZoomInfo