Commercial policyholders of Jewelers Mutual Insurance got a $5.2 million dividend in August—the largest 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 is the nation’s largest jewelry insurer.
The payout was due to exceptional financial results for 2003, a “solid, successful year,” said Ron Harder, JMI president and chief executive officer.
Policyholders insured for a year or more as of March 31, 2004, received a dividend of 8% of their current premium. Those insured for less than a year as of March 31 received 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, members of its board of directors 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.