The driving force behind the concept of mutual insurance is a sense of unity and togetherness. Customers pay premiums that go into a common fund which, in turn, is used to not only insure their claims, but also those of their fellow policyholders. It’s the “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” mentality—only, of course, on a larger scale.
Though Bear River Mutual Insurance Company has grown to be one of Salt Lake City’s top mutual-insurance firms, it still upholds the standard of togetherness and community service that the company was founded on back in 1909. “We were founded in a small town in northern Utah,” Bear River president Don Adams says. “The company originated with a group of 15 farmers who wanted to get insurance at a better rate while also providing better insurance to their neighbors. They pooled their money and were very selective about the farmers who participated, and insured homes, haystacks, houses, and other buildings.”
That sense of unity helped both the company and its community blossom, and over the years, Bear River has grown to include auto, home, fire, and personal umbrella insurance. “Our mission is to provide insurance at a reasonable price with exceptional service to the members of the mutual insurance company,” Adams says. He originally joined the company as its chief operating officer in 1999, but took over the reins as president in 2001. Since then, Adams has worked to ensure that the company continues to maintain a strong sense of community loyalty. “Sometimes when you talk about insurance, it can be a nasty word because many people feel like insurance companies just want to take their money. But we’re part of a noble cause,” he says. “Our motto is ‘where values count.’ So, we operate the company based on values that benefit the community.”
Each year, the company organizes and implements several different community service projects, sometimes even giving their employees time off to see the projects through to completion. “We think that we are a viable part of the community, and we certainly want to be known as such,” Adams says.
The company selects various community projects annually and encourages employee participation. Providing Christmas presents for the “Angel Tree,” preparing Easter baskets for sick children at the Primary Children’s Hospital, blanket drives for the homeless shelter, and working with the Utah Food Bank with food drives for the area’s needy families is especially gratifying, according to Adams. In addition, there have been projects to repair and clean homes as well as refurbish areas such as the Murray Boys and Girls Club with all of the labor and most of the donations given by the employees along with supporting funds provided by the company.
The company recently began a new service project that has garnered attention from the Salt Lake City community. “For the last two years, we’ve actually worked with local organizations to give a car to a family in desperate need of one,” Adams says. The company reached out to some of its vendors for assistance in rebuilding and refurbishing a car that had been totaled in a claim. Vendors donated tires, labor, and repair work to help out, and the car was presented to a needy family last Christmas.
And when a claim really tugs on the company’s heartstrings, Bear River employees have been known to offer support that goes beyond the perimeters of insurance. “We had an individual whose house caught on fire. The older son thought that the father was still in the house, so he ran back inside to save him, and died as a result, not knowing the father was safe outside,” Adams says. Not only did the employees work together on the claim to get the house rebuilt, but they also united to hold a fundraiser for the family, and gave additional donations out of their own pockets. “I’m so proud of the service-minded focus that our employees have. They actually care about what they do—they’re values-minded individuals,” he explains. “It’s not just about insurance; it’s about the people.”