A Legacy of Utica Area Insurance Companies That Would Make Ben Franklin Proud

August 26, 2015

insurance companies

image courtesy of Gaulberto107 at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Benjamin Franklin invented bifocals, the lightning rod, and the Franklin stove among other things. He was a founding father, scientist, author, publisher, and he adorns America’s $100 bill. And, oh, by the way, he helped establish one of the first insurance companies in America. And it’s still in business.

In 1752, he founded the Philadelphia Contributionship for the Insurance of Houses by Loss by Fire. He and other business people started the company to provide insurance protection to home owners in and around Philadelphia.

Around here in the Utica area, we didn’t have Ben Franklin, but we had our own enterprising business people with the commercial savvy to build some great insurance companies from scratch. We thought we’d mention some of those that we represent.

Utica National Insurance Company traces its routes to 1914 when the Utica Mutual Insurance Company and Graphic Arts Mutual Insurance Company were founded. John L. Train was Utica Mutual’s first general manager and its first policy was issued to Adirondack Maple Company of Lowville.

Other early policy holders were Bausch & Lomb Optical Company, Beech-Nut Packing Company, and Bristol-Myers. Its first offices were in downtown Utica a few doors down from today’s Taylor & Cook restaurant. Their first automobile insurance policy was issued in 1918 when Utica Mutual began writing liability, collision, and theft insurance for private and commercial automobiles.

Today the Utica National Insurance Group is one of the top 100 insurance organizations in the nation. It’s corporate headquarters is on 180 Genesee Street in New Hartford and the Eastern Regional Office is on 201 Lafayette Street, Utica.

New York Central Mutual Fire Insurance Company, known now as NYCM Insurance, is in Edmeston, NY with branch offices in Sherburne, Amsterdam, and Buffalo. NYCM was founded in 1899 by VanNess DeMar Robinson and is now managed by the fourth generation President and CEO V. Daniel (Dan) Robinson.

It’s a property and casualty company that employs over 800 in Central New York insuring our clients for homeowners, automobile, mobile home, umbrella, and commercial. It prides itself in 24/7 customer service, an Advantage Repair Program, and very competitive rates.

Utica First Insurance Company is headquartered in Oriskany and was founded on November 18, 1903 as the Utica Fire Insurance Company. It began in the Devereux Building on Genesee Street in downtown Utica. William Howarth was its first president. At first it wrote policies just in Oneida County, but soon expanded into five adjoining counties and then statewide.

It moved its headquarters to the Utica Fire Insurance Building at 110 Genesee Street downtown and remained there until it built it’s new, state of the art headquarters at the Oneida County Airport Industrial Park in 1973. In 1993 it changed its name to Utica First Insurance Company and it now offers a full line of homeowners and commercial property and liability coverages.

Commercial Travelers was founded in Utica in 1883 and is the oldest insurance company of its type in the U. S. It was founded by Edward Trevvett, a British-born tea salesman, for traveling sales reps to get accident insurance. These reps were called “commercial travelers” at the time and because of their occupation had a hard time getting insurance.

The company moved to its current location at 70 Genesee Street back in 1905. It was a location in the heart of Utica’s business district overlooking the great Erie Canal. Today Commercial Travelers specializes in accident and health insurance for Students K-12, College Students, and Special Risks for groups, sports, and special events.

We at Scalzo, Zogby & Wittig proudly share the legacy of these hugely successful businesses started right here in the Utica area. We salute them and all the companies we represent who service you, the best clients an agency could have.

Until next time,
The SZW Team

Scalzo, Zogby & Wittig, Inc. is your New Hartford area independent insurance agent. Call us for a quote on insurance for your home, car, business, or life at 315.792.0000.