Cumberland Mutual (“Cumberland”) has been providing protection against loss to its policyholders for over 175 years. On February 23, 1844, the New Jersey Legislature granted an Act of Incorporation establishing the Cumberland Mutual Fire Insurance Company. The following month an organizational meeting was held at the Davis Hotel in Bridgeton, New Jersey to adopt by-laws and elect officers. Benjamin Sheppard became the first president of Cumberland and he also purchased the first policy from Cumberland to insure his mill. During the very early years of operation, the Directors and Officers actually inspected the properties and adjusted the losses. Soon, increasing business growth made it necessary for Cumberland to appoint agents and adjusters throughout its market area in order to serve better its many policyholders. Many of Cumberland's first agents and adjusters were professionals such as lawyers and physicians. Eventually, the agents themselves became professionals in the insurance field. Today Cumberland retains a strong commitment to the independent agency system with over 400 agents representing our company in four states.
To provide additional protection to our policyholders, Cumberland organized the Minerva Fire Company in Bridgeton in 1854. In 1866, Cumberland assisted in the purchase of a hand pumper fire engine for the fire company. This fire engine, called a Minerva, later became part of our Company trademark.
By 1867, Cumberland's growth had exceeded the capacity of its accommodations and therefore Cumberland purchased a new building to house the growing Company at 107 East Commerce Street in Bridgeton. Cumberland had to keep its insurance products up to date in the face of rapid technological advancements, which included insuring properties that utilized gas for lighting and cooking and those properties using electricity. Conditions that were once exclusions had become so commonplace that they now had to be included in the policy coverage. By the turn of the century, Cumberland was using standard form policies and was active in the State and National Associations of Mutual Fire Insurance.
Innovations such as combined policies and reinsurance would fuel future expansion at Cumberland during the 20th century. Cumberland's surplus continued to grow from a little more than $1,000 in 1844 to over $162,000 by 1919 with over 7,700 policies in force.
This continued growth required the construction of a new office building on Pearl Street in Bridgeton, which opened in 1927. Cumberland's financial strength allowed it to survive and prosper through the Great Depression, two World Wars and several severe storms, including the hurricane of 1944 and Hurricane Hazel in 1954.
In 1958, Cumberland's charter was amended to allow them to write all types of insurance, except life. Cumberland's continued growth necessitated the construction of a new modem 12,000 sq. ft. office building at West Broad Street in Bridgeton in 1963.
On October 1, 2000, the Chester County Mutual Insurance Company of Downingtown, PA merged into Cumberland Mutual Fire Insurance Company. This combination created a strong regional company, writing insurance policies in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware.
In 2002, Cumberland established a technology unit in Mansfield, Ohio in order to develop new insurance products more rapidly and efficiently for our policyholders. As we move forward, technology will play a vital role, along with our highly skilled workforce, in our future success.
In 2004, we completed our merger with the Mutual Insurance Company of Calvert County, Maryland in Prince Frederick, MD and exceeded $100 million in written premiums. We completed our Corporate Headquarters expansion in Bridgeton in 2004.
Cumberland is the oldest Mutual Property and Casualty Insurer domiciled in the State of New Jersey with over 150 employees, nearly 100,000 policyholders, 430 agents, $393 million in total admitted assets, and $202 million in total surplus at the end of 2020. Through the years Cumberland's directors, officers, and employees have supplied the necessary wisdom and integrity to sustain Cumberland's tremendous growth and provide exceptional service to its customers. We look forward to maintaining this tradition of excellence into the future.