March 11, 2013
Who: Cascade Farmers Mutual Insurance Company
What: Will be formally congratulated for 100 years of service
When: March 13, 1:30 p.m.
Where: Hilton Garden Inn, Great Falls
HELENA, Mont. – Glenn Lambert knows about property insurance and fishing Otter Creek. And he knows those things go together.
Lambert is the general manager of Great Falls-based Cascade Farmers Mutual Insurance. The company celebrates its 100th anniversary this year – a milestone for any business, but especially so for a business that for the first 50 years of its existence could only sell its product in the unincorporated areas of north-central Montana.
Cascade Farmers Mutual's success is not going unrecognized. Montana Insurance Commissioner Monica J. Lindeen praised the company's success and is sending representatives of her office to Great Falls on March 13 to formally recognize the company for its century of service.
"Cascade Farmers Mutual and its 14 dedicated employees are the very kind of Main Street small business that built this state," said Lindeen. "I congratulate them and their customers on 100 years of putting Montanans first."
Living in Montana's rural places and understanding that lifestyle is a crucial part of Cascade Farmers Mutual's longevity and success, Lambert said. Many of the company's customers have been customers for life. They are no longer just customers, but friends.
"Trust. That's the heart and soul of our company," he said. "There are generations of families out there that we have insured."
Montana has 12 farm mutual insurance companies. Each trace their roots to the turn of the last century, when insurance companies would not write insurance for property outside the web of government services – like fire protection – found only in cities and towns. Cascade Farmers Mutual – initially called Cascade County Farmers Mutual -- was formed in 1913. According to state law at the time, the company could sell only property insurance in Cascade County and only in unincorporated areas. As a "mutual insurance company," Cascade Farmer's Mutual was and is owned by the people insured through the company. Seven of Montana's farmer's mutual insurers have been in operation for at least 100 years.
By mid-century the law changed and Montana's mutual insurance companies could sell in their home counties and any county that touched it. More recently, Lambert said, mutuals like his have been allowed to sell statewide and in incorporated towns. His company is still operated as a mutual insurance company – looking out for its members, not stockholders.
"I started with this company in 1993," he said. "I like that we are owned by the people we insure. We are not out here to make a great, big profit, but to make sure rural Montana has affordable insurance."
Cascade Farmers Mutual is still headquartered in Great Falls, where it started a century ago. The heart of its business remains rural Montana, Lambert said, although they have customers throughout the state.
Lambert himself lives in Raynesford, in neighboring Judith Basin County. He lives a small-town life like many of Cascade Farmers Mutual's 6,000 customers. In the summertime, Lambert said, he can walk down to Otter Creek and drop his fishing line.
"Everybody knows everybody," Lambert says.