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It Started with Forty Dollars, Fourscore Years Ago
Wednesday, July 1, 2015 6:15 AM

Eighty years ago, the CUNA Mutual Society issued a life insurance claim payment of $40 to the beneficiary of a Milwaukee Road railroad switchman. That payment began to fulfill the vision of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) National Board, which had approved creation of an insurance operation devoted to protecting credit union members and their families.

Before that year of 1935 was over, the fledgling company had launched a loan protection product (paid for by credit unions) and within another year added credit life insurance, disability coverage, and outstanding loan balance coverages.

The outstanding loan balance coverage was something new, not only to credit unions but to the insurance industry overall. Credit unions saw how often members missed payments during the brief period before they died or became totally disabled. So the CUNA Mutual Society responded with a product that paid the unpaid interest that accumulates on these delinquent loans, plus the outstanding balance up to $1,000.

What Has and Has Not Changed

So much has changed in the fourscore years for this company, now called CUNA Mutual Group, and so much remains the same.

First, a sample of what has changed:

  • Forty bucks was nothing to sneeze at in 1935, when the CUNA Mutual Society paid that first claim. But think about how many lives and families have been aided by the $1.157 billion in benefits paid to credit unions and their members by CUNA Mutual Group in 2014 alone. The company paid almost 121,000 claims during that year.
  • CUNA Mutual Group now provides a comprehensive mix of commercial liability and property insurance for credit unions, in addition to a full line of consumer insurance and payment protection products. The company also offers a variety of products and services credit unions need to run their businesses, such as lending documents, online and mobile lending platforms, employee retirement plans, asset management services, and executive benefit programs.
  • About 97 percent of U.S. credit unions have at least one product relationship with CUNA Mutual Group.
  • Working alongside credit unions and other industry partners, CUNA Mutual advocates for our industry with legislators and regulators at the federal and state levels. Whenever the credit union industry needs to be heard in Washington or in state capitals, CUNA Mutual Group is there.
  • CUNA Mutual Group is a founding member of the Filene Research Institute—our industry’s “think and do tank,” and supports The Cooperative Trust, a community of young credit union professionals. The company also sponsors its own research and analysis, including the monthly Credit Union Trends Report.
  • Local, national, and global community groups receive millions each year from CUNA Mutual Group, often in cooperation with credit unions and industry partners.

Here’s what hasn’t changed about this company since 1935: It remains a mutual company, owned by its policyholders, dedicated first and foremost to protecting credit unions—and their hard-working members and families—against financial hardship. The company is still innovating and fulfilling credit unions’ emerging needs, while remaining an integral part of the industry that created it.

CUNA Mutual Group, an approved five-star business partner of Credit Union Resources, Inc., is the marketing name for CUNA Mutual Holding Company, a mutual insurance holding company, its subsidiaries and affiliates. Insurance products offered to financial institutions and their affiliates are underwritten by CUMIS Insurance Society, Inc. or CUMIS Specialty Insurance Company, members of the CUNA Mutual Group.