Benjamin Franklin is credited with forming the first fire insurance company in 1752, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Minnesota first became a state in 1858. Shortly after, many families started settling throughout the area; however, they found it difficult to obtain fire insurance coverage. Either the large stock companies out east refused to provide any coverage or it was so expensive that no one could afford to purchase the insurance. That was until the Minnesota legislature passed a law creating Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 67, Township Mutual Insurance.
Lake Park & Cuba Insurance Company was organized in April of 1881 by a group of ten people. At that time, a $10,000 bond was needed to start a Township Mutual and a Board of Directors needed to be elected. Most had to take out a mortgage on their farms to obtain enough money to post a bond with the State of Minnesota to form the company. The first policy was written in November of 1881.
Many people ask about the “Cuba” in the company’s name! The Cuba name came from a group of people that had “come west” from an area in New York state whose hometown had been Cuba, New York. Cuba is now the name of a Township in Becker County. There is no connection between the country of Cuba and Lake Park & Cuba Insurance Company.
As the Company grew, they expanded into additional Townships and Counties. The state statute still defines where the Mutual can write policies. Originally, the Company wrote in 150 Townships, until recently, when The Company applied for a change in operating territory with the Commerce Department. Lake Park & Cuba currently provides coverage in 239 Townships located within eight Counties; Becker, Clay, Hubbard, Mahnomen, Norman, Otter Tail, Wadena and Wilkin. Today, there are over 1,800 policyholders and more than $600,000,000 of insurance in force.
Lake Park & Cuba Insurance Company was not formed to be a large, for-profit company, but rather a mutual insurance company owned by Policyholders. In the beginning years, the premiums were based upon the need for money to pay a claim as they had only one person taking care of policies, and the only peril that was covered was a loss by fire. All premiums were due on October 1st, regardless of what time of year the policy was written; the reason for this being that the majority of the policyholders were farmers, and they had money more readily available after harvest and selling farm products.
The first President of Lake Park & Cuba Insurance Company was L.W. Pederson. He served from 1881 to 1902. He was also the founder of Lake Park Children’s Home. It just so happens that Kevin Lunde, one of our Company’s former Directors, owns and lives in what once was the Lake Park Children’s Home.
From 1894 to 1918, C.E. Bjorge and W.O. Bergerson handled the Secretary and Treasurer duties. Ole A. Aas became President in 1902 and continued until 1915. A few years later, T.K. Torgerson became Secretary. In 1915, A.K. Torgerson, a nephew of T.K. Torgerson, became president, a position he held until his death in an auto accident in May of 1940. Henry O. Bjorge became Secretary in January of 1918, a position he held until his death in February of 1931. Mrs. H.O. Bjorge was appointed to fill the vacancy of her husband until June of 1931 when she was duly elected to serve on the Board and named Secretary, a position she held for 16 years. W.J. Norby served as Treasurer from 1925 to 1926. From 1926 to 1956, Reno Bergerson, Louis Olson, Marian Anderson, Kristofer Dalaager, Oscar J. Olson and Carl Anderson all served as Treasurer.
From 1940 to 1954, W.J. Torgerson served as President. H.C. Torgerson served as Secretary from 1947 to 1965. H. Russell Larson served as Treasurer from 1956 to 1965 and then became Secretary/Treasurer in 1965 until 1993. In 1993, George Haberle became Secretary/Treasurer. Serving as President from 1954 to 1970 was Lewis Wattenhofer. Norman Elton became President in 1970 and served until 1979.
Lake Grove Mutual Fire Insurance Company in the Waubun area merged with Lake Park & Cuba Insurance Company in 1968. Lake Grove had 2.25 million dollars of insurance in force, with an annual premium of $5,400. During this time, Lake Park & Cuba had seven directors. Herbert Krantz was serving as Secretary/Manager of Lake Grove Mutual. During the merger, he became one of the new board members. A nine-member Board conducted the Company’s business until 1975 when the Board was reduced to seven members.
Herbert Krantz became President in 1979 and served until 1982, when Elmer Eppler took over this position. He served as President from 1983 to 1987. Eugene Stoll, a long-time director, became President in 1987 and served until 1989. He then continued on as a Director and Vice-President until 2004. Mitchell Ballard was elected President in 1989 and continues to serve this position today.
B. Adeline Seifert was hired as General Manager and served from 1985 to 1992. Ron Berning was hired in 1993 to serve as General Manager and was appointed Treasurer in 1994. At this same time, the Lake Park & Cuba General Insurance Agency was formed for the Company to handle all underwriting and policy issuing for the two State-wide Companies we have a packaging arrangement with: North Star Mutual Insurance Company and RAM Mutual Insurance Company.
James Griffnow was elected as Vice-President in 2004.
The Company’s office was originally located in the Secretary’s home until 1964. The Company purchased an old shoe repair shop on Lake Street in downtown Lake Park behind the Post Office. A 24x28 fire resistant structure was built and a fire proof vault was installed for record storage. Moving from the private residence to a downtown location seemed to generate more business, and the office had an active agent in the office to sell insurance. At that time, the Company had a little over 37 million dollars of insurance in force, with an annual premium of approximately $74,500.
In 1974, a 20x24 addition was added to the west side of the original structure. The Company continued to grow and the insurance in force was just under 89 million dollars; with an annual premium of about $192,000. Inflation was a significant cause of the increase, as was the growing size of farming operations. The Company was also seeing more Homeowner Policies being issued as the communities were growing and farmers were retiring and moving to the City or purchasing homes on the area lakes.
By the end of 1980, the insurance in force had risen to over 230 million dollars, with an annual premium of over $479,000. Prior to this time, many of the policies that the agents were writing were what insurance companies called “mono-line” policies, which meant that they wrote a fire policy, a wind policy, a liability policy and, in some cases, an inland marine policy. All of these were separate policies and each had its own bill.
At this time, the Township Mutuals, along with the State-wide Mutuals, developed a Combination Package Policy. A General Agent was appointed in the Township Mutual’s office to handle the underwriting, policy issuing and billing. This allowed Lake Park & Cuba to provide a group of coverages under one blanket and the insured only received one bill rather than many.
In 1998, Lake Park & Cuba Insurance Company purchased a lot at 2039 Second Street on main street, downtown Lake Park, to construct a 40x70 office building. Today, this location provides the much needed space for all of the Company’s operations and offers off-street parking for the staff.
In 1999, Lake Park & Cuba sold the original office building on Lake Street to the Lakes Crisis Center, who used it as a family center. It has since been sold and the current owners have added a second story to the building to create a four-plex apartment house.
For the year ending December 31, 2019, Lake Park & Cuba Insurance Company has $753,859,881 of insurance in force, with an annual premium of $1,388,345, funds held for Policyholders of over $2,764,175.
Reinsurance plays a very important part in the success of an insurance company. In order to provide all the coverage that Lake Park & Cuba does, the Company uses reinsurance to protect the Company’s assets. A number of years ago, a group of Township Mutuals formed a company to provide this coverage. RAM Mutual Insurance Company continues to provide for our needs in the insurance industry today.
Lake Park & Cuba Insurance Company currently has a five-member Board of Directors. Each board member serves a three-year term, with terms of office varied for election purposes. All Officers are elected or appointed following the Annual Meeting which is held on the first Tuesday of April each year. The current Board of Directors for Lake Park & Cuba Insurance Company is as follows: Mitchell Ballard of Ogema, MN, President; Kathy Willie of Detroit Lakes, MN, Vice President, Michael Lockhart of Ulen, MN Secretary/Treasurer, Tim Stoll of Dent, MN Director and Vince Leendertsen of Lake Park, MN, Director.
Lake Park & Cuba Insurance Company’s current staff is as follows: Roger Miller, Manager, Underwriter and General Agent; Gina Leendertsen, Accountant/Assistant Manager; Gregory Anglin, Field Services (Adjuster/Loss Prevention); Kay Aldrich, Administrative Assistant/Accounting; and Kristy Hovanec, Underwriter.
Lake Park & Cuba Insurance Company is a member of the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) and the Minnesota Association of Farm Mutual Insurance Companies (MAFMIC). Through these associations, we hope to provide superior service with today’s technology, prosper in a changing environment, create the future and develop our destiny.