Neenah, Wis.—Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company is planning to transition to a mutual holding company, it announced last week, as it looks to extend the scope of its operations beyond insurance.

The company currently is organized as a mutual insurance company, meaning it’s an insurer owned by its policyholders, rather than stockholders.

Changing to a mutual holding company, or MHC, would allow Jewelers Mutual to become a wholly-owned stock subsidiary of the new MHC while preserving mutual policyholder rights, Mark Willson, vice president and general counsel at Jewelers Mutual, explained to National Jeweler.

The company does not plan to go public and will leave ultimate control of the company in the hands of member policyholders, he said.

The plan is subject to approval by both the insurance commissioner in Wisconsin, where Jewelers Mutual is based, and policyholders.

In a press release announcing the planned transition, CEO Scott Murphy noted that Jewelers Mutual, which has been in business since 1913, has to evolve in order to better serve its policyholders, who are adjusting to the changing needs of the industry.

Transitioning to an MHC will allow for more flexibility, enabling the company to better operate its current business as well as pursue other opportunities in the future, he said.

For example, Willson said the company currently faces limitations on its ancillary operations—divisions like JM Shipping Solution and JM Care Plan, the service contract and extended warranty product jewelers can offer to customers—even if they benefit its core insurance operations.

Becoming a mutual holding company would remove those limitations while still giving the company board oversight and control.

The change will also allow the company to extend membership rights to policyholders of current and future subsidiaries of Jewelers Mutual who would not have them otherwise.

“A tangible example of another component of this additional flexibility is that JM Specialty policyholders would become MHC members under the filed plan and be able to vote for members of the board of directors, extending the company’s ‘mutuality’ to more members than is possible today,” Willson said.

JM Specialty Insurance Company, an insurance underwriting company within Jewelers Mutual, is a new insurer that is set to begin writing business later this year.

The planned transition will not affect any of the current coverages, premium rates, loss prevention or claims-handling processes, the company confirmed.

Jewelers Mutual also noted that its board of directors and officers would remain the same and would not receive any additional compensation because of the transition.

And, policyholders’ right to vote for board members at the company’s annual meeting will remain intact.

The company’s board of directors already has unanimously approved the change and the plan has since been filed with the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance.

If approved by the commissioner’s office, it then goes to existing and eligible policyholders for a vote.

Policyholders will be able to vote by proxy via mail or email, or can choose to attend a special policyholders meeting.

Dates have not been set for the administrative hearing, proxy mailing or policyholder meeting, but the company said it hopes to complete the transition by the end of 2019.

For more information on the plan, policyholders can call 888-884-2424 or visit JewelersMutual.com.

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