Most companies start small and grow their business into huge conglomerates with several subsidiaries and operations in different countries. Farmers Insurance is one company that started operations before the worst economic depression hit the U.S. in the 1930s. This company managed to shield itself from the impact of the bad economy as thousands of other companies folded. Today, Farmers Insurance has become a household name that is synonymous to financial strength and high quality of service.
Forward thinking, innovation, and the desire to do what is right and aboveboard has helped Farmers Insurance become the successful company that it is today. From a tiny one-room office in Los Angeles, California, Farmers Insurance sold insurance to farmers in 1928. Today, the company has operations across the country and a diversified insurance portfolio to serve a wider market.
John C. Tyler and Thomas E. Leavey, the founders of Farmers Insurance, hailed from distinctly different backgrounds. However, the two shared a passion for providing excellent insurance products at reasonable prices. Personal experience is what drove Tyler and Leavey to establish Farmers Insurance. They both knew that farmers have a lower risk when it comes to their vehicles, plus farmers were entitled to preferred rates.
During the Great Depression when one in three adults was unemployed, the district managers and insurance agents of Farmers Insurance joined demonstrations supporting the National Recovery Act. Farmers Insurance was one of the very few companies that paid out cash benefits during this time, even when the law does not oblige insurance companies to honor claims. After the nation recovered economically, Farmers Insurance ventured into new territory until the number of states where it operated ran to 19. During the 1940s, Farmers Insurance diversified its portfolio to include fire insurance coverage for businesses and homes. Great growth came after the Second World War and Farmers Insurance was able to acquire the New World Life Company in Seattle, Washington, in 1953. It was the first company to use IBM 705 computers out of its Mississippi office in 1956. It was also during the 1950s when Farmers Insurance started advertising in national magazines. It also sponsored the television airing of the Tournament of Roses Parade through its television commercial placements in the show. Big named stars endorsed Farmers Insurance while appearing in the company-produced community activities and radio programs. In the 1960's Farmers Insurance concentrated on creating customer-friendly products and services. Specialized and customized insurance products came out as the company maximized the wealth of data it has on its customers all stored in the computer. Premium rates were adjusted to reflect the actual risks faced by every customer. Farmers Insurance is the first insurer to offer plans on a monthly payment scheme, which did not charge any interest. It was also in the 1960s when Farmers Insurance started offering Uninsured Motorist coverage as well as discounts for drivers 30 years old to 60 years old. The company also started operating drive-in claims service outlets throughout the country. It expanded its life insurance policy and added more benefits to homeowner policies, including the replacement of household items that were damaged due to a fire. Farmers Insurance is also among the first to offer discounts in the health plan of non-smokers.
During the 1980s and 1990s, Farmers Insurance remained very relevant in the insurance industry. It released the "Friendly Exchange" magazine, which were filled with educational articles to help its policyholders. There were a lot of articles discussing safety and more insurance-related subjects. The agents selling Farmers Insurance products paid policyholders visits to be able to explore the options of the potential customer, discuss updates with existing ones.
Insurance lines continue to be innovated at Farmers Insurance. The company developed a means of improving the coverage for people with end-stage renal disease, which basically enabled policyholders to make use of their life policy to cover the medical costs. The company performed very well leading the British American Tobacco Company to take notice and acquire it in 1998. Farmers Insurance was able to capitalize on the many technological advances during the time and was able to come up with even more robust product lines that offer protection from financial losses. The outlook remains good for Farmers Insurance in the 21st century. New products more geared towards catastrophe risks such as the Farmers HelpPont and the Mobile Catastrophe Fleet.