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With upcoming retirement, Preferred Mutual appoints new leadership

By Eric Reinhardt (


NEW BERLIN, N.Y. — Preferred Mutual Insurance Company (PMIC) says it’ll have new leadership when the calendar turns to 2022.

R. Benedikt Sander
Jeffrey Lopata
Christopher Taft

The firm on Oct. 4 announced the promotion of R. Benedikt Sander to the role of president and CEO, effective Jan. 1.

PMIC has also promoted Jeffrey Lopata to COO and executive VP, also effective at the beginning of the new year, per a company news release. 

Preferred Mutual Insurance is based in New Berlin in Chenango County.

PMIC’s current CEO, Christopher Taft, will be retiring but will become the chairman of the company’s board of directors. In that role, Taft replaces Robert Wadsworth, who will continue to support PMIC as a member of the board.

“As we position PMIC for its next chapter, we’ve identified an opportunity to strengthen our corporate structure by promoting two individuals who will lead PMIC into the future,” said Taft. “My new role as chairman of the board will allow me an opportunity to continue to focus on shaping the culture and strategic direction of PMIC in partnership with our leadership team.” 

Sander, who joined PMIC in June 2019, has been serving as EVP, insurance operations, and has more than 20 years of leadership experience in the insurance industry. In his time at PMIC, he has supported strategies to improve company growth and profitability as well as initiatives that “foster strong relationships” with employees, agents and business partners. 

“I am humbled to be PMIC’s next leader and am looking forward to continuing its proud 125-year-old tradition of being centered on our community, our policyholders, our agents and all our employees,” Sander said. “We have a supremely talented team at PMIC and I look forward to working closely with Jeff Lopata, the leadership team, our new chairman Chris Taft, and the board of directors as we chart the course to continued success.”

Lopata, who has been serving as EVP, chief strategy officer, has worked on PMIC’s strategic-planning initiatives across several key areas of the company during his 17-year tenure. Those areas include information technology, enterprise project management, and the development of many business strategies and services. 

In business since 1896, Preferred Mutual Insurance Company provides property and casualty insurance coverage to more than 232,000 individual and business customers through a network of more than 500 independent agents throughout New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. 

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