Homeowners in the Midwest may not worry about hurricanes or tsunamis, but mighty storms can be a real concern. As the "Silver Lining," West Bend Mutual helps protect property and other assets for its members in 10 states. The company provides personal and commercial property/casualty insurance, including auto, homeowners, and umbrella coverage. Its National Specialty Insurance (NSI) division offers specialty policies for businesses including child care centers, tanning parlors, not-for-profit organizations, and athletic leagues. Its Argent workers' compensation division specializes in writing large accounts. About 1,200 independent agencies represent West Bend Mutual, which was founded in 1894.
West Bend Mutual's network of independent agencies cover Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and Wisconsin.
The mutual company believes in steady growth by improving its products and providing high-standard customer service that often includes same-day underwriting responses to agents. It also provides incentives to attract and retain associates and independent agents. Over the past few years the company has been broadening its network of independent agents.
In 2011 West Bend Mutual's net income fell 40% to $20 million, down from almost $34 million in 2010, and its underwriting loss increased 2% to $42 million. Policyholders' surplus grew slightly to $548 million, up from $542 million in 2010, as did the company's assets, which achieved a modest gain of 1% to $1.6 billion, continuing an upward trend since 2008.
Key elements of the company's strategy for growth include equipping its independent agency partners with competitive products and services and making it easier to place business with the company. To accomplish this, the company provides automated solutions that not only support its diverse offerings but can quickly be adjusted to address changing market demands. Building and nurturing agency relations is also core to its strategic aim. – less