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About Preferred Mutual
Preferred Mutual Fire Insurance Company of Chenango County was founded in 1896, modeled on Ben Franklin’s original insurance company. As a mutual insurer, the company is owned by policyholders but was once run by only a team of three people.
The original headquarters located in New Berlin, NY burned down in 1899 but the company recovered from the loss, in spite of the fact that it was made worse by the owner’s ironic failure to carry fire insurance.
Today the company still operates out of New Berlin and has expanded to cover New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. Their products are sold through a network of independent agents across these four states.
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Preferred Mutual Products
Preferred Mutual writes property & casualty insurance for individuals, as well as commercial products for businesses. The products available vary by state.
Preferred Mutual offers a solid range of home insurance products, although the website does not provide much in the way of details regarding the policies or their coverage. Available home insurance products include:
- Standard homeowners, covering structures, personal property, and liability, along with a host of other options.
- High-Value Home insurance known as the Pinnacle Program, which provides added coverage for high-value homes and their valuable contents.
- Condo insurance, protecting condo owners from liability and for personal property as well as that portion of the structure that is not covered by the homeowners association.
- Renters/Tenants insurance, which provides personal property and liability coverage to tenants who rent a home.
- Mobile Home insurance, offering coverage specific to the needs of mobile home owners.
- Rented Property, or landlord, insurance, covering the specific risks of a rented home, including coverage for the structure, liability, and loss of rents.
- Seasonal Home insurance, covering properties that are frequently vacant.
Preferred Mutual writes auto insurance in two states: New York and Massachusetts. The two programs are similar, with adjustments for state laws and some of the discounts also differ. Standard liability and basic options are offered, along with a selection of more specific optional coverage.
The New York auto program offers the optional Premier Auto Endorsement, which bundles together several additional coverage options for a single premium. The bundle includes towing, rental coverage, airbag and lock replacement, and new car replacement among others. There does not appear to be a similar program for the Massachusetts auto insurance program at this time.
Preferred Mutual provides coverage for several types of specialty vehicles. These include watercraft, snowmobiles, and motorhomes.
Watercraft coverage includes a variety of types, such as pontoon boats, sailboats, and both outboard and inboard motors.
Motorhome coverage is available for several classes of RVs as well as travel trailers.
Other Specialty Coverage
Additional specialty insurance policies from Preferred Mutual include personal umbrella, identity theft, and riders that can be added to a home policy such as above ground pool and high-value items coverage.
Preferred Mutual has business insurance for companies ranging from small to large.
Businessowners policies can be customized to meet the needs of specific companies, including liability, property, and other custom coverage. Commercial package policies are also offered for those industries where a Businessowners policy is not appropriate.
Preferred Mutual also offers commercial auto insurance that can be added to a package or purchased separately.
Among the specific businesses that Preferred Mutual insures are retail stores, offices, food service, religious institutions, contractors, and wholesale and distributors.
Preferred Mutual does not offer online quoting and instead has a quick form that can be used to contact an agent. This is fairly standard for a smaller, regional insurer, but often results in unwanted solicitation efforts directed at consumers who are trying to compare rates.
As a regional insurance company, we do not expect that Preferred Mutual will have the best rates on auto insurance when compared to national direct-buy companies. This type of insurance company generally relies more on added value and service rather than low rates to attract customers.
Preferred Mutual has online claims reporting available when logged into their customer service center. There is an email address where claims can be reported without logging into the system. They also offer a toll-free line for reporting, or claims can be filed with the agent.
Claims forms are easily available on the website for download, which can expedite claims. They are divided by state.
Preferred Mutual handles glass-only claims with Safelite Auto Glass, a company that is used by a large number of insurance companies both large and small. There is no indication as to whether or not they have a preferred network for auto claims repairs.
The company’s website offers a quick rundown of what to expect during the claims process and generally makes it easy to access contact information and get assistance with a claim. While the company may be a bit behind the times when it comes to quoting, their online claims assistance is on par with much larger companies.
Ratings and Consumer Reviews
Preferred Mutual has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and there are only four customer complaints on file in the past three years. None of those complaints were closed in the past 12 months.
Reviews on Google are mixed, with some glowing and some very negative. The overall star rating is 2.9 out of 5. Complaints seem to focus on difficulty accessing customer service and issues with claims. It is always a positive to see that the company responds to each and every review on Google, both positive and negative, indicating a desire to correct issues and remain aware of problems.
Preferred Mutual does not appear on any of the major national consumer review sites, which is fairly common for smaller, regional insurance companies.
The Bottom Line
Preferred Mutual is a regional insurer with a long history, which may appeal to those who prefer to support a small, local company. They will be best for those who like to work with an agent. Their products are solid, with many options for added coverage, although without rates it is difficult to determine what sort of value this company offers. Their reputation is fairly solid, with a low complaint volume and enough positive reviews to make a dent in the complaints.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.