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Brethren Mutual was originally founded to offer policies to local farmers. Today, it still offers this coverage as one of the largest farm insurers in Maryland. It also sells personal home and auto coverage in addition to some commercial policies in Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
It’s a small company, with just under 150 employees. Coverage is sold through independent agencies in each of the states where Brethren policies are available.
Brethren Mutual is headquartered out of Hagerstown, Maryland, and all of the company’s employees work in its main office. There are no satellite offices currently set up in Pennsylvania or Virginia, so most direct contact a customer will make with this company is mediated through an agent.
Brethren Mutual sells personal auto policies to drivers in all three states mentioned above. The company uses a tiered program, placing different drivers into specific levels depending on their driving history and other factors. This allows lower risk drivers to enjoy lower rates. Due to this tier system, not every driver will be able to obtain all coverages and discounts, so you’ll need to obtain a personalized quote before knowing exactly what your policy will offer.
In general, every tier will include some form of liability and first-party damage insurance, although limits and deductible availability may vary. You’ll also be able to purchase uninsured motorist coverage and some medical payments protection for your own injuries.
For an additional cost, you can add a few endorsements to the policy, such as towing, audio equipment coverage, customized equipment coverage, transportation expenses (rental reimbursement) and some extended non-owned coverage for situations where you wreck a vehicle that you did not own.
Brethren Mutual sells a variety of personal property insurance plans, including homeowners, renters, mobile home, and personal umbrella policies.
Homeowners plans are available in “basic” and “elite” versions.
Under basic homeowners insurance, you can obtain coverage for your home and all related buildings on your property. This policy pays for damage to your home caused by covered losses, as well as loss of use for homes that are rendered unlivable. Basic plans also include general liability insurance for injuries occurring on your property, as well as some optional endorsements for extra perils like sewer backup and identity theft.
The Homeowners Elite plan covers the same things, but it offers enhanced overage. Policy limits are increased, sewer backup is automatically included, some limited earthquake coverage is offered, and theft of valuable personal property is included as a covered peril.
If you own a mobile or manufactured home, you can buy insurance for that through Brethren as well. To qualify, your mobile home will need to be more than 400 square feet and at least 10 feet wide. The policy will cover the dwelling, personal belongings and some related structures on your property, just as a regular homeowners plan would.
Brethren Mutual offers commercial auto and property insurance to businesses in a variety of industries. It also offers some specialized coverages for particular businesses, such as workers compensation and professional liability.
If you’re a business owner who wants to keep things simple, Brethren offers a commercial package with a bundle of commonly used coverages. The bundle is designed to meet the risks of a standard retail, restaurant, hotel or similar business.
Farm policies were one of the first products offered by Brethren, and they remain one of the company’s main products. They were the first company to offer farm insurance in Maryland and are still one of the largest insurers of active farms in the state.
Policies are available for farms of all sizes and types, including commercial poultry farms and large orchards. Aside from general farm coverage, you can purchase endorsements for specialty risks. This includes coverage for embryos, to protect unborn livestock, as well as credit coverage, crop protection and more. For large farms, workers compensation coverage is also available.
Brethren Mutual utilizes independent agencies rather than direct sales. There is no way to obtain a quote on the website, but you can locate an agency by clicking the very small “find an agent” link on the top right side of the page (next to “contact us”). This link will lead you to a map, where you can select your location to see nearby agents.
The company’s toll-free number, (800) 621-4264, is a policy holder services line, so calling it without a policy will not get you very far.
The main claims office for Brethren Mutual is located at the company’s headquarters in Hagerstown. When you initially report a claim, it will be forwarded to an adjuster at that location. Depending on the situation, that adjuster may continue to work with you, or your case may be forwarded to an independent adjuster who’s partnered with the company.
Since the claims department is so small, it may be a challenge to get swift claims service in certain areas. Finding an adjuster for an inspection to a rural area isn’t always easy. You can speed up the process by using one of Brethren’s direct repair facilities. Basically, this allows you to bring your vehicle to a pre-approved shop for repairs rather than waiting on an adjuster to complete an estimate first. You would still need to wait for an adjuster’s inspection for homeowners claims, though.
To file a claim, click the “Report a Claim” button on the right-hand side of the Brethren Mutual webpage. From there, you’ll be directed to call the claims department at 800-621-4264 or to call your agent directly. For after-hours emergency claims, which are handled by an outsourced company, call 800-241-2541.
Brethren Mutual is not accredited with the Better Business Bureau. It has an “A-” rating with the website, with four complaints listed. Of these, only one was resolved satisfactorily; one had no response, one was not resolved and the last was resolved but not to the customer’s satisfaction.
The company does maintain a small social media presence, with just 159 “likes” on Facebook and no LinkedIn profile, although several of the employees have individual profiles on that site. Overall, Brethren seems to be comfortable as a small niche company and is not over-eager to reach a wider audience. Since policies are sold through agencies, the company seems satisfied with letting agencies do most of its marketing.
Since the company is small, there are not a lot of reviews from consumers, either positive or negative, online.
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Brethren Mutual is a small company with a long history. It’s obviously done well in its niche to stay successful for over a century. Although Maryland isn’t incredibly well-known for its agriculture, it’s still significant that Brethren can maintain a tight hold on that particular niche. That said, it is a small company and may not have the flexibility or rates of other insurers, so people in the states the company covers may still do well to shop around.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.