For 100 years, the family-owned California Casualty has been working to provide insurance with its customers’ careers in mind.
What started as a two-person business in a small San Francisco office, the company has expanded to 700 employees covering 172,000 individuals in 43 states, said Beau Brown, CEO of California Casualty. It’s a family company and Brown is a fourth generation owner of the Bay Area organization with headquarters in San Mateo off Alameda de las Pulgas near State Route 92.
In 1914, the state’s workers’ compensation law began to change and Carl Brown Sr. saw the opportunity to create an insurance company.
Although California Casualty no longer supplies workers’ compensation insurance, it has branched out to auto, home and life insurance policies. In 1971, California Casualty relocated from San Francisco to its San Mateo headquarters where it employs more than 150 people, Brown said.
The company pioneered affinity-based group insurance in 1951, which allows it to offer competitive rates to members of public service unions and associations, Brown said. California Casualty has been endorsed by both state and national public service associations and is proud to say that most of its policyholders are employed as nurses, teachers, firefighters and peace officers, Brown said.
“The people that we get to serve are the people that serve our community … we think of them as heroes and it’s just a pleasure to be able to serve them,” Brown said.
California Casualty is endorsed by and provides coverage for members of numerous public service organizations such as California State Firefighters Association, the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, the National Education Association and others. The company’s advisory board is also made up of people who work in these fields and has provided California Casualty with firsthand insight as to how the company can best serve its customers, Brown said.
“We’re able to offer discounted rates for members of these groups and trade associations and then we offer tailored products and services,” Brown said.
If a vehicle belonging to a nurse or teacher is broken into or hit while parked at their place of employment, California Casualty waives their deductible, Brown said. For a police officer or firefighter, if they are tragically killed in the line of duty, the company waives their family members’ premiums for about a year, Brown said. The company has proudly invested a great deal of thought in ensuring it remains true to its commitment to serve and protect its customers, Brown said.
In 1965, the company’s code was written and implemented to reflect his great grandfather’s mission of running a company that acts with integrity, provides excellent service and fulfills its promises, Brown said.
Prior to Brown taking over, his father served as the chairman of the board and, in 1991, demonstrated what it truly means for a company to act in the best interest of its customers. During the Oakland Hills fires, many people found themselves with their homes destroyed and their insurance maximums expended. However, with the commitment to policyholders in mind, the company waived the limits to ensure those whose homes were damaged by the fire could begin to recoup their loss, Brown said.
Because the company isn’t owned by shareholders, it’s able to follow its long-term vision of supporting its customers and employees instead of having to pursue a strict quarterly profit margin, Brown said.
“The biggest difference is that we’re policyholder owned; so we can focus on providing service to our customers and giving them competitive rates. We don’t have to funnel a certain level of profits back to some holding company out of state or out of the country. We can focus on providing outstanding service and fulfilling our commitment to our policyholders,” Brown said.
One of the most rewarding things about working for his family-based company is the quality of people with whom he gets to work, Brown said. There’s longevity among its employee base and many have worked for California Casualty for several decades, Brown said.
He and most of his employees feel pride in being part of a company that has been helping community members for 100 years. At the end of the day, the success of California Casualty boils down to its superb and dedicated employees, Brown said.
“It’s an honor to work for a family company and I feel a responsibility to our employees. When I first came to work here … the thing that really impressed me was the people who worked here,” Brown said. “The company is really about the people who work here and it’s about the relationships with our customers.”
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