On February 6, 1906 in Seville, Ohio, Lightning Rod Mutual Fire Protective Association was formed by a group of farmers who recognized that buildings with lightning rods were significantly less likely to suffer fire damage than buildings without lightning rods. The newly formed mutual assessment company consisted of 177 members and its first policy was written on July 19, 1906 for $3.37. Lightning Rod initially provided only fire coverage, exclusively written for members with lightning rods on their buildings. Operating as a mutual assessment company meant losses and expenses were tallied and shared equally among the members at the end of the year.
As the decades progressed, Lightning Rod grew in membership and policy count, resulting in multiple moves to larger buildings within Seville. Around 1935, the company once again needed to relocate to a larger building. When this news spread throughout Seville and Medina County, many sellers seized the opportunity to make a quick profit and increased property prices substantially. As a result, Lightning Rod broadened the search for its new property beyond Medina County. The company purchased a building in Wayne County at 324 N. Market Street, Wooster, Ohio.
In order to expand its offerings Lightning Rod Mutual Protective Association partnered with, and eventually acquired, Union Insurance Company, which wrote property coverage for structures without lightning rods. Additionally, Lightning Rod members made the decision to expand coverage for losses resulting from causes other than fire. In 1937, ten investors contributed $1,000 each to form Western Reserve Mutual Casualty Company, to write casualty insurance and operate as an advance premium insurance company, where premium is paid up front and there is no assessment at the end of the year.
Insurance laws changed in 1955, permitting insurance companies to write policies for multiple lines of business. Lightning Rod Fire Protective Association became a multiline carrier in 1962, expanding coverage offerings beyond property, and also converted from an assessment association to an advance premium company. In making these changes, Lightning Rod Mutual Protective Association reorganized itself as Lightning Rod Mutual Insurance Company.
During the next quarter century, Lightning Rod and Western Reserve expanded their influence, writing policies throughout the state of Ohio. Boone Farm Mutual Insurance Company was acquired in 1987, extending the company’s territory and making its insurance products available in Indiana. With this latest acquisition, Western Reserve Group was formed to bring all of the company’s individual companies under one trade name and create a consistent brand for all of its products. In 1997, Sonnenberg Mutual Insurance Company was acquired and became part of Western Reserve Group.
In 2006, Western Reserve Group celebrated its centennial, having grown exponentially since its humble beginnings as a mutual fire protection association. Western Reserve Group maintains an unsurpassed record of financial stability and fiscal responsibility, writing business today as a premier, multiline property and casualty insurer in Ohio and Indiana.