Monadnock Moments No. 74: More Than One Hundred Years of Peerless Coverage
In 1893 Calvin B. Perry, a former merchant and postmaster from Fitzwilliam, opened the Calvin B. Perry insurance agency in Keene, specializing in fire insurance. Calvin’s sons Walter and William soon joined their father and out of their agency grew the Peerless Casualty Company. Organized in 1901, the new firm advertised that it handled “Industrial Health and Accident Insurance.”
In the beginning the company offered indemnity for accidental death in sums ranging from $100 to $1000, and monthly benefits in sums from $20 to $100 for disability resulting from accident or disease. The company was successful and soon offered policies especially for women. Two types of policies were offered, one for housewives and one for business or professional women. These policies paid $200 for accidental death or a monthly indemnity of $20 for disability resulting from an accident or disease. The coverage was available to women between the ages of 16 and 49 years at a cost of $1.00 per month.
The company grew from these small beginnings. In the 1950s Peerless built its own building on Maple Avenue in Keene and in 1957 became the United States managers of the Netherlands Insurance Company. By the late 1960s Peerless was represented by nearly 2000 agents and was one of the largest employers in Keene. Peerless continues to serve today, more than one hundred years after it was founded by the Perry family of Fitzwilliam.