Back in 2001 I related my history of auto insurance, a path that led me, on Prince Edward Island, first to Gordon Full, a small office, staffed by two people, that was responsive and friendly beyond all belief.
Gordon Full eventually sold out to the still-local-but-not-as-small Hyndman and Company, and I’ve been happy to have Hyndman’s as my broker for the 22 years since.
Hyndman and Company was one of the Island’s oldest companies of any sort; many years ago I ask the Public Archives for information they might have in their records about the company’s telephone number, and the ever-helpful John Boylan replied:
The 1894 telephone directory lists FW Hyndman Insurance as being No. 67, 2 Rings. Customers had individual numbers ranging from one to three digits. Number one was the Rev. G.M. Campbell’s residence. The Falconwood Asylum was number fifteen.
Although other phone lines were added to Hyndman Insurance, 67 remained the private office number for the business up to 1952. By 1952 customers had a mix of two, three and four digit telephone numbers.
There’s a gap in our telephone directories from 1952 to 1959, but by ‘59 Hyndman Insurance was a four digit number, 6567. All numbers in the Charlottetown exchange appear to have been four digit ones by this year. By 1961 Hyndman Insurance was 894-6567.
I was proud to be associated with a company with a long history, a local company that was just a few blocks or a quick phone call away.
Alas, if you dial that telephone number today, you get a message that it’s no longer in service. A metaphor for the company itself: Hyndman’s has changed a lot in recent years and I’ve become increasingly less satisfied with the service I’ve been getting: the agent I’m assigned to keeps changing, and getting in touch has become increasingly cat-and-mouse. Ten years ago my insurance company, Dominion of Canada, was swallowed up by the US-based Travelers Insurance, adding an additional layer of complexity when it came to yearly renewal. The straw that’s in the process of breaking the camel’s back is that Hyndman and Company was sold to Westland Insurance Group this year, “one of Canada’s largest independently owned insurance distribution businesses.”
So, now that any trace of dealing with a local company has been removed, any need to avoid shopping widely and broadly in the auto insurance marketplace has also been removed, and I’m open to any suggestions you might have: I’m shopping for price and for convenience. If I don’t ever need to talk to a person, that’s a bonus. Which is quite a journey from sitting down across from Gordon Full 30 years ago. But such is the modern world of commerce.