Jewelers Mutual announces $5.2 million dividend

Commercial policyholders of Jewelers Mutual Insurance are getting a $5.2 million dividend in August—the largest dividend amount in the company’s 91-year history. JMI, headquartered in Neenah, Wis., is the only U.S. insurer specializing in jewelry and jewelers, and also the nation’s largest jewelry insurer.

The payout—approved earlier this year by JMI’s board of directors—is due to exceptional financial results for 2003, a “solid, successful year,” said Ron Harder, JMI president and chief executive officer. He announced it in his message to policyholders, directors, and employees at JMI’s annual policyholders meeting in Neenah, Wis., JMI’s home, in July.

Policyholders insured for a year or more as of March 31, will receive a dividend of 8% of their current premium. Those insured for less than a year as of March 31 will receive a dividend of 4% of their current premium.

Harder credited the company’s successful year to its ongoing commitment to safety and security and to its policyholders’ efforts to reduce the frequency of losses. “However, jewelers must remain alert. The severity of losses—the dollar amount per loss—has increased,” he said.

Harder said the company’s financial soundness and growth continued in 2004’s first six months. “Our underwriting profit is on schedule with another good year for our policyholders,” he noted.

JMI dividends aren’t automatic. Each year, its board of directors—most of whom own jewelry businesses and are policyholders—determine whether they can return dividends to policyholders, based on specific financial criteria. During the last 15 years, JMI has returned about $20 million in dividends to policyholders. The last distribution—in 2000—totaled $3.8 million. The newest dividend was approved earlier this year at the board of directors meeting.

Jewelers Mutual Insurance was founded in 1913 in Neenah, Wis., by jewelers who needed more affordable insurance. Today, it is licensed in all 50 states and insures more than 10,000 jewelry businesses and $1.5 billion of individuals’ jewelry.