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Utica First Insurance Company

Yesterday and Today

Utica First Insurance Company, headquartered in Oriskany, New York has reached a milestone in its long history of service. During 2003, Utica First observed its 100th year of providing quality insurance protection and service, while maintaining a century-long commitment to community involvement.

The company was founded on November 18, 1903 when a charter was granted to the Utica Fire Insurance Company of Oneida County, New York to operate as a New York State Advance Premium Co-operative insurance company. This was the result of the efforts of an active group of Utica businessmen who wanted to start an insurance company that would provide coverage at lower rates combined with prompt service to the local community.

The newly formed Utica Fire Insurance Company began its operations in the Devereux Building on Genesee Street in downtown Utica. William Howarth was elected as the company’s first President, with Charles Williams serving as Vice President. Initially, the new insurance company would write policies exclusively in Oneida County, but soon the business was extended to five adjoining counties and eventually statewide. During the first few years in operation, the maximum insurance coverage allowed was $2,000. Fortunately, the company reported no losses during its first year of operation.

By 1925, Utica Fire Insurance Company had grown at such a strong pace that it needed more room. The company then moved its offices to 329 Genesee Street and later relocated to 110 Genesee Street, which served as its headquarters until 1973. The Utica Fire Insurance Building became a familiar landmark to downtown Utica shoppers and business people and was an integral part of the city’s skyline for several decades.

Utica First takes pride in its history; a century of business growth that included a merger with the Colonial Cooperative Insurance Company of Newburgh, New York in 1941. Coverages were expanded as well, and by 1949 the company was able to provide General Casualty, Liability and Multi-Peril policies in addition to Fire and Allied lines. In 1954, the company’s licenses were expanded once again to allow its agents to write the new single policy for combined property and liability coverages on Homeowners risks. Throughout the 1960s, Utica Fire increased its capacity to offer coverage to both residential and small business customers.

Utica First is respected in the insurance industry as an innovative company that has implemented and welcomed change. One of the major highlights in the company’s 100-year history was the completion of its new Home Office Building located at the Oneida County Airport Industrial Park in Oriskany, New York in 1973. This state-of-the-art facility continues to serve as headquarters for Utica First.

By the 1980s, the company was licensed to write insurance in New York, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, North and South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. During the decade, several catastrophes and weather related occurrences along the eastern seaboard caused Utica Fire to reconsider its geographic marketing area; which ended its business exposures in the southern states while maintaining business in the northeast.

During the 1990s, another major change was on the horizon– a name change. In 1993, Utica Fire Insurance Company of Oneida County, New York became Utica First Insurance Company. It was felt that the new name would better reflect the multiplicity of insurance lines and products that the company was now able to offer.

Today, under the leadership of Richard J. Zick, President and Chief Executive Officer, Utica First continues to play a leading role in the insurance industry. The company now offers its specialized niche products in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia, Florida.

The 100-year success of Utica First could not have been achieved without its network of independent insurance agents. Presently, over 350 agents represent Utica First. The independent agent continues to be one of the most important aspects of the company’s commitment to customer service.

Throughout its 100 years in business, Utica First has remained on the cutting edge of technology. The company has always been at the forefront of technological advances, and that has translated into further efficiencies and improved service for customers.

Utica First has enjoyed a century of community involvement and remains very active in a variety of charitable causes. Its employees are involved on an individual basis in their local towns and villages, while the company as a whole shares that spirit of community throughout central New York. One of the major events that Utica First has remained strongly committed to is America’s Greatest Heart Run and Walk, which is presented annually to benefit the American Heart Association. From cultural events to education, Utica First continues to take an active role in a number of worthy endeavors in the community each year.