Our Rich Heritage

Back in the mid-1850s, 14 farmers got together in one place and signed a note promising to reimburse one another in case of a barn fire.  No one else would offer insurance to these pioneers so they did it themselves. Those are the humble beginnings of one of the world’s strongest financial networks, Ontario Mutuals.

The history of mutual insurance goes much further back.

Mutual insurance got its start following the great fire of London in 1666 and became established in North America in 1752. The British American Assurance Company, a stock company, was established as the first domestic insurer in 1833.

Meanwhile, Benjamin Franklin helped establish the first successful mutual insurance company in America in 1752.

To encourage the formation of domestic insurers, the Governor of Upper Canada, Sir Francis Bond Head, introduced legislation in 1836 permitting the establishment of mutual companies. In the 1850s, the act was amended to permit additional mutual companies. As a result, many companies were organized during the 1850s and 1860s.

When first organized, the farm mutuals had to gain their knowledge of insurance by experience. As the number of companies grew, it became apparent that they should get together to share experiences and discuss common problems and possible solutions.

The Mutual Fire Underwriters Association of Ontario 42nd Annual Convention, February 24th, 1925. This group is now known as the Ontario Mutual Insurance Association.

A meeting of the mutual companies was called in 1882 which was the initial meeting of the "Purely Mutual Underwriters Association of Ontario," now known as the Ontario Mutual Insurance Association (OMIA).

The association provided the leadership needed to keep the farm mutuals abreast of developments in insurance policy coverages to meet the changing times. Company directors and staff had the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with their counterparts from other companies.

OMIA was instrumental in the formation of the Fire Mutuals Guarantee Fund (FMGF) and enabled these small companies to speak with a united voice in dealings with governments.

In 1955, discussions began on a number of alternative plans for reinsurance that led to the formation of the Farm Mutual Reinsurance Plan (Now, Farm Mutual Re) in 1959. In 1969, the reinsurance operation was incorporated as a mutual insurance company.

Today there are 40 independent, 100% Canadian mutual insurance companies across the province that are part of the Ontario Mutuals family. We cover a lot more than farms today, but the spirit’s the same as it was over 160 years ago – we're in this together.