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Two century-old mutual insurance companies have merged to become the Salus Mutual Insurance Company. The merger involving Howard Mutual and West Elgin Mutual was effective Jan. 1.

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The Salus name has Greek and Roman roots, being the ancient goddess of protection, health and prosperity, a theme that appealed to the planners.

Howard Mutual was created in 1892 when farmers from nearby Howard Township discussed the need for insuring their barns and homes, and decided to create the company for their own mutual protection and interests.

West Elgin Mutual Fire Insurance Company, meanwhile, was organized when Dunwich Farmers’ Mutual Fire Insurance Company (established in 1880) and Southwold Farmers Mutual Fire Insurance Company (established in 1878) amalgamated in 1978. The name was made more inclusive in 1989 when it was changed to West Elgin Mutual Insurance Company.

Salus will retain the six previous locations – in Aylmer, Blenheim, Dutton, Ridgetown, Rodney and Shedden.

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The corporate head office is at 29584 Pioneer Line, Dutton.

Salus has 79 employees. Their roles include sales agents, adjusters, various office staff, accountants and executives. There are currently 13 directors of the corporation.

Jodi Rich is the chief executive officer. The chief integration officer is Brian Downie, and Lee-Ann Vansteenkiste is the chief operating officer.

Spokespeople say the reason for the amalgamation is to allow for the opportunity to spread the insurance risk over a broader geographic area. That should reduce risk owing to rising reinsurance costs, create an improved surplus and capital position, and make the most of the strengths of the management team.

It is the goal to merge the best practices of Salus’ employees: their skills, knowledge, and detailed knowledge of their clients and the trends across the region.

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Both Rich and Downie were asked about the biggest challenges surrounding their merger. Their response was: “Our directors, managers, staff and agents have all been working very hard to harmonize the products, systems and workflows to allow Salus Mutual to best serve our policyholders.”

Salus continues to offer the same products and services as Howard and West Elgin previously provided. That includes home, auto, farm and liability insurance, to name a few.

Their philosophy: “We know our policyholders by name, we are from your community and want what is best for you and for the community as a whole.”

“Future plans are to continue to serve the people of our communities, to provide the best insurance products we can, to continue to employ local staff and agents, who provide meaningful, competent and timely support,” says Salus.

“We look forward to continuing to serve our policyholders and to be involved in our communities. We have a long history in the area and are making changes to ensure that we are still in business in 150 years!”

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