Farmers Insurance Group

Farmers Insurance Group
Farmers Insurance Group
Type Subsidiary
Industry Insurance
Founded Los Angeles, California, U.S. (1928 (1928))[1]
Founder(s) Thomas E. Leavey
John C. Tyler
Headquarters Los Angeles, California, United States
Area served U.S.
Key people Paul N. Hopkins, Chairman
Bob Woudstra, CEO[2]
Services Insurance, Mutual Funds, Annuities
Net income US$2.147 billion (2007)[3]
Employees 25,935 (2007)[3]
Parent Zurich Financial Services
Divisions Farmers Insurance Exchange
Fire Insurance Exchange
Truck Insurance Exchange
Farmers Texas County Mutual
Subsidiaries Farmers Direct
Fire Underwriters Association
Truck Underwriters Association
Farmers New World Life Insurance Company
Property and Casualty Insurance Subsidiaries (Mid-Century and Domestics)
Foremost Insurance Company
Bristol West Insurance Group
21st Century Insurance
Airship with Farmers logo operated by Airship Ventures at Willow Run Airport [5]

The Farmers Insurance Group of Companies is a Swiss owned personal lines property and casualty insurance group providing homeowners insurance, auto insurance, life insurance, and financial services in the United States. It is the third largest insurance group in the US servicing over 10 million households in 41 states.[6] Farmers Group Inc. is headquartered in Los Angeles, California but is 100% owned by Zurich Financial Services based in Zurich, Switzerland.



Farmers Insurance Group of Companies is composed of a holding company and the various underwriters, reciprocal inter-insurance exchanges, and smaller companies associated with it.

  • Farmers Group, Inc. is the holding company and provides insurance management services. It acts under the dba Farmers Underwriters Association. Together with its wholly owned subsidiaries, Truck Underwriters Association and Fire Underwriters Association, they act as the attorneys-in-fact for three reciprocal inter-insurance exchanges — Farmers Insurance Exchange, Truck Insurance Exchange, and Fire Insurance Exchange. However, the Farmers Group, Inc. management company is not an owner of these reciprocal inter-insurance exchanges.[6] The exchanges own several other insurance companies and insurance holding companies, including Mid-Century Insurance Company, Foremost Insurance Company, and Bristol West Insurance Group, as well as Farmers Financial Solutions, LLC, a registered broker-dealer. In this structure, the exchanges hold the insurance risk, while Farmers Group, Inc. earns management fees by running the exchanges' affairs. The only exception is Farmers New World Life Insurance Company, a life insurer owned directly by Farmers Group, Inc.[1][6][7]
  • Farmers New World Life Insurance Company started as New World Life Insurance Company in 1910. It was acquired by Farmers in 1953 and provides insurance products including flexible universal life insurance, traditional term life insurance, whole life insurance, and annuities.[1][6]
  • Farmers Financial Solutions, LLC. was created by Farmers in 2000 to provide financial products to customers.[8]
  • Foremost Insurance Company was acquired in March 2000 and provides specialty insurance including mobile homes, motor homes, travel trailers and specialty dwellings.[1][6]
  • Bristol West Insurance Group, based in Davie, Florida, was acquired in July 2007. In 1973, it began providing private passenger auto insurance to residents in Florida and now provides liability and physical damage insurance - focusing exclusively on private passenger vehicles across the United States.[1]
  • 21st Century Insurance, based in Woodland Hills, California, was acquired on July 1, 2009.


  • Auto insurance - Farmers provides auto insurance coverage for autos and collective automobiles.
  • Motorcycle insurance - Farmers provides motorcycle insurance coverage through their Foremost Insurance Group.
  • Home insurance - Farmers provides insurance for homes, condominiums, and mobile/manufactured homes. Farmers also provides special coverage for renters, earthquakes, floods, and identity theft.
  • Life insurance - Farmers provides term, whole, and universal life insurance. Life annuities are also issued by their Farmers New World Life Insurance Company.
  • Recreational insurance - Farmers provides insurance coverage for boats, ATVs, RVs, and travel trailers.
  • Financial services - Farmers provides mutual funds, variable annuities, and variable universal life insurance through Farmers Financial Solutions, LLC.
  • Business insurance - Farmers provides business insurance coverage for landlords and commercial property owners, contractors, condominium homeowner associations, and businesses in the manufacturing, service, restaurant, retail, wholesale, and auto service & repair industry.

Farmers Field

  • On February 2011, Farmers Insurance announced that they have agreed to sponsor a football stadium in the city of Los Angeles. This stadium will be located downtown, close to the Staples Center. The contract was signed for 30 years, and its estimated cost is $700 million. This deal starts with $20 million for the first year, and then eventually increases. This stadium is planned to be named as “Farmers Field”. Even though Los Angeles does not officially own a football team yet, the NFL has given their approval to build the stadium. It is said that the deal may increase to over $1 billion if the city creates two football teams.



Future Farmers co-founders John C. Tyler and Thomas E. Leavey first meet when Tyler moves to California.[9]


Tyler and Leavey had both grown up with rural backgrounds and believed that farmers and ranchers, who had better driving rates than urbanites, deserved lower insurance premiums.[4][9][10] During the 1920s, farmers across the United States were establishing their own mutual insurance firms and cooperatives in order to have less expensive policies. Tyler, the son of South Dakotan insurance salesman, and Leavey, who had formerly worked for the Federal Farm Loan Bureau and the National Farm Loan Association, recognized that these farmers, ranchers, and other rural drivers were an overlooked market and wished to create their own auto insurance firm.[4][9] After receiving a loan from the founder of Bank of America, they were able to start their company.[9]


Tyler and Leavey open the doors to their newly founded company, Farmers Automobile Inter-Insurance Exchange, in downtown Los Angeles, California.[9] Tyler served as president with Leavey as vice president. A sales manager and secretary completed the four employee team.

On March 28, 1928, the first meeting of the board of governors is convened.[4] Two days later, Charles Brisco insures his 1925 Cadillac Phaeton and becomes the first Farmers customer.[11]


Truck Insurance Exchange, a new reciprocal insurance company, is launched to specialize in truck insurance.[4]


Farmers is "named the leading reciprocal in earned premiums for auto insurance by National Underwriter."[4]


Fire Insurance Exchange, the third reciprocal company launches.[4]


Mid-Century Insurance Company becomes a subsidiary of the Farmers Insurance Exchange. Aside from the insurance coverage provided by the original three exchanges, Mid-Century offers insurance coverage for Inland Marine, robbery, felony, burglary, personal lines, plate glass, selected bonds, and floaters.[4]


Seattle-based New World Life Insurance Company is acquired by Farmers.[4]


Farmers begins annual participation in the Pasadena Rose Parade, launching its involvement in parades and community events nationwide.[4]


John C. Tyler, Farmers co-founder and CEO, dies at the age of 86.[4] Thomas E. Leavey, the remaining co-founder, takes the CEO position.[4]


Thomas E. Leavey, Farmers co-founder and CEO, retires.[4]


After an eight-month takeover battle, BATUS Inc., the American subsidiary of British conglomerate B.A.T. Industries Plc, acquires Farmers Group, Inc. for $5.2 billion and becomes the sole stockholder of the company's 68 million shares of common stock.[9][12] At this time, Farmers is the seventh-largest property insurance and third-largest auto insurer in the US.[4][12]

1989, 1991, and 1994

Multiple, large-scale disasters pose financial challenges to Farmers Insurance. The 1989 San Francisco earthquake, 1991 Oakland fire, and 1994 Northridge, California, earthquake were the three most significant disasters.[4] It was estimated that the losses from the Northridge earthquake alone were $1.3 billion.[4]


Farmers reorganizes its core business operations into three separate units for personal lines insurance, commercial insurance, and life insurance amid a toughening insurance market and recovery from the San Francisco, Oakland, and Northridge disasters.[4]


September 1998, the Zurich Financial Services Group is created from the merger with the financial services business of B.A.T. Industries through a dual holding structure.[13]


March 2000, the Farmers Insurance exchanges acquire Foremost Corporation of America (Foremost Insurance Company),[14] a leading writer of manufactured homes and a prominent insurer of recreational vehicles, boats and other specialty lines.

In August 2000, Farmers Financial Solutions registers with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as a broker-dealer. Through it, Farmers begins offering mutual fund and variable insurance products.[15]

In October 2000, the Zurich structure is simplified and unified under a single Swiss holding company. Allied Zurich and Zurich Allied shares are replaced by shares of the newly incorporated Zurich Financial Services with a primary listing on SWX Swiss Exchange (ticker symbol: ZURN) and a secondary listing in London. Zurich Financial Services American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) are traded on the American Stock Exchange.


In July 2007, the Farmers Insurance exchanges acquire Bristol West Holdings, Inc., an insurance holding company specializing in non-standard auto insurance, which provides insurance coverage for drivers whose driving records or other problems make obtaining insurance difficult.[16]


In April 2009, the Farmers Insurance Group announced that it will acquire 21st Century Insurance for 1.9 billion dollars from its competitor AIG. This put Farmers in a dead heat for third largest personal lines insurer in the US.[17]


Natural disasters

  • In 2005, after Hurricane Rita hit Beaumont, Texas, leaving it without power, Farmers Insurance brought in almost 300 insurance adjusters to assess exterior property damage in order to expedite the reconstruction effort, provided $100,000 for the emergency operations center, and two badly needed megawatt electric generators.[18]
  • During the October 2007 California wildfires, Farmers Insurance was one of only a few companies[19] to set up facilities to aid their customers. In addition to writing checks for evacuation costs, damage claims, lodging and meals, the company ran commercials urging their customers to take advantage of these facilities.[20] The company now also has 2 buses serving as Mobile Command Centers,[21] [19] This mobile claim center arrived at the Qualcomm Stadium only two days after the fires started.[22]


Complaints to state insurance departments

In 2006, Farmers Insurance received the highest number of complaints to state insurance departments in Washington[23][24] and Oregon.[25][26]


  • In Ballard v. Farmers Insurance (2003), the company was sued for failing to cover repairs for a water leak which eventually led to toxic mold growing in the owner's home. The original settlement was for $32 million, but was reduced to $4 million.[27]
  • In 2003, the company was also sued by a woman who was involved in a car accident and was refused compensation despite her claims of being in pain, losing her career, and being unable to have another child. The suit claimed that Farmers used Colossus, a third party computer program, to evaluate her claim, and that the program served as a way to rip off their customers.[28] The company's use of Colossus was further questioned by two company whistle blowers who remarked that "there's so much pressure on you to settle for the least amount possible" using prizes such as $25 gift certificates or a pizza party for adjusters achieving lowest settlements.[29]
  • In Bell v. Farmers Insurance Exchange (2004), Farmers Insurance was sued for failing to pay overtime to its claims adjusters. The company settled and paid out over $200 million to its employees.[30] The company claimed that administrators were exempt from overtime.[30] At the time, this was the largest overtime class action suit in the United States.
  • In 2005, the company refused to pay a claim on a car accident because the accident was allegedly caused intentionally by another driver.[31] Despite Farmers' claims, the state of Washington ordered the company to pay the claim.[32]
  • In Betty Jo Walker v. Farmers Insurance (2007), Farmers was fined $3 million for not defending a pair of limited-income homeowners from a negligence claim.[33]
  • In Goddard v. Farmers Insurance (2008), Farmers was ordered to pay $2.5 million for handling a claim with bad faith and "stonewalling" during settlement negotiations. The original punitive damages award was $20 million.[34][35]


Financial ratings

  • A.M. Best Company: A (Excellent)[36]
  • Moody's Investor Service: A2 (Good)[37]
  • Standard and Poor's: AA- (Very Strong)[38]

Service ratings

  • In 2003, Consumer Reports rated Farmers Insurance Homeowners "Worse" for both "Problems with Claim" and "Delayed Payments".[39]
  • The 2006 American Customer Satisfaction Index conducted by the University of Michigan found that customer satisfaction with Farmers was at exactly the same level as the overall Property and Casualty Industry. In addition, Farmers' satisfaction level was the most improved from 2005 to 2006 among the companies surveyed.[40]
  • In March 2006, Consumer Reports considered Farmers Insurance one of the "poorest performers" amongst 27 insurance companies in terms of paying off (auto) claims in 30 days or less.[41]
  • In the JD Powers 2007 Collision Repair Satisfaction Study, which covered customers surveyed between 2001 and 2004, Farmers Insurance received the lowest possible ratings in all four of the studied categories: "Overall Experience", "Claim Settlement", "Claim Representative" and "Claim Process and Procedures". Of the 26 companies surveyed, Farmers was tied for 20th place.[42]
  • In 2005, 2006, and 2007 Farmers Insurance Group won the J.D. Power award for Call Center Customer Service Excellence.[43]
  • In 2008 Bristol West had a complaint ratio of 3.42 while the national median was 1.0 according to the NAIC.[44]

See also

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  1. ^ a b c d e f "About Farmers". Farmers Insurance Group. Retrieved 2008-11-20. 
  2. ^ Hemenway, Chad (2008-11-18). "Farmers Promotes Hopkins as Chairman, Woudstra to CEO". BestWeek (A.M. Best Company, Inc.). Retrieved 2008-11-20. 
  3. ^ a b "Farmers Group - Company Overview". Hoover's. Retrieved 2008-11-20. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Whiteley, Laura (1999). International Directory of Company Histories, Volume 25. Chicago: St. James Press. ISBN 1558623671. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b c d e "Our Company". Farmers Insurance Group. Retrieved 2008-11-20. 
  7. ^ editors, Stanley Cox and Alaine Hamilton (2008-08-27). Amendment to Form N-6. EDGAR filing. File No.333-149540. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. pp. C–7 to C–11. ISBN 0947877681. 
  8. ^ Kandyba, Slav (2004-12-27). "Securities brokerage firms: ranked by number of registered, licensed securities brokers in greater San Fernando Valley". San Fernando Valley Business Journal. Retrieved 2008-12-04. [dead link]
  9. ^ a b c d e f Bronstad, Amanda (2005 -08-22). "Farmers became industry giant with roots planted deep in L.A.". Los Angeles Business Journal. Retrieved 2008-11-21. 
  10. ^ "Where Are We Going?". 2003. Archived from the original on 2008-01-01. Retrieved 2008-11-21. 
  11. ^ Davies, Jerry (2008-06-19). "Farmers Insurance Dedicates Heritage Center: 80 Years of History in Los Angeles". Reuters. Retrieved 2008-11-21. 
  12. ^ a b Adelson, Andrea (1988-08-25). "B.A.T. Bid Is Accepted By Farmers". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-11-21. 
  13. ^ Zurich to pay BAT $18.6bn for finance units
  14. ^ "Foremost Corporation of America Announces Completion of Merger". Business Wire. 2000-03-07. Retrieved 2008-11-22. 
  15. ^ "BrokerCheck Report". Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Retrieved 2008-11-24. 
  16. ^ "Farmers Insurance Group Completes Acquisition of Bristol West Holdings, Inc.". Business Wire. 2007-07-05. Retrieved 2008-11-22. 
  17. ^ Chicago Tribune.,0,6556066.story. 
  18. ^ "Social Responsibility: The Right Thing to Do" (PDF). Leaders Magazine 29 (3): 83–84. July 2006. 
  19. ^ a b Lifsher, Marc (2007-10-24). "Insurers roll even before smoke clears". Los Angeles Times.,1,718952.story?coll=la-news-a_section. 
  20. ^ Howard, John W. (2007-10-26). "The California Wildfires: A Dispatch from the Front". Retrieved 2007-11-01. 
  21. ^ "Inside Farmers Mobile Claims Center".;jsessionid=4QM4I0W1JZN4YQSNDLPSKHSCJUNN2JVN. Retrieved 2008-03-25. 
  22. ^ Allen, Mike (2007-10-29). "Most Homeowner Policies Cover Cost to Rebuild, Not Property's Market Value". San Diego Business Journal. Retrieved 2007-11-01. [dead link]
  23. ^ McGann, Chris (2007-10-12). "Big insurers dig deep to fight R-67". Seattle PI. 
  24. ^ Washington State Auto Insurance Complaints "2006 Private Passenger Auto Insurance Company Complaints". Washington State Auto Insurance Complaints. Retrieved 2007-10-22. 
  25. ^ "Oregon Department of Consumer & Business Services: Oregon State Auto Complaint Report" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-10-22.  - Farmers Insurance had the most number of auto complaints in 2006 (p.13)
  26. ^ "Oregon Publishes Annual Insurance Complaint Statistics". Retrieved 2008-06-24.  - Farmers Insurance had the most number of auto and homeowners complaints in 2007
  27. ^ "$32 Million award in toxic-mold suit slashed". Associated Press. 2003-11-13. Retrieved 2007-10-22. 
  28. ^ Heckman, Candace (May 15, 2003). "Does insurance company 'low-ball' pain and suffering?". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 
  29. ^ Heckman, Candace (May 15, 2003). "Low-ball offers nothing new in insurance industry". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 
  30. ^ a b McKee, Mike (September 7, 2004). "Huge Settlement Ends Record-Setting Overtime Class Action". The Recorder. 
  31. ^ Westneat, Danny (October 14, 2005). "Crash victim's insurer should have a heart". The Seattle Times. 
  32. ^ Westneat, Danny (October 20, 2005). "State tells insurer to pay". The Seattle Times. 
  33. ^ Bruss, Robert (October 3, 2007). "Farmers Insurance learns hard lesson in homeowner lawsuit" (– Scholar search). The Boston Globe. [dead link]
  34. ^ Sebok, Anthony (March 11, 2008). The Oregon Supreme Court's Recent Decision on Punitive Damages: Why It Took the Wrong Approach. Findlaw. 
  35. ^ Goddard v. Farmers Insurance
  36. ^ DeLeon, Frederick; Gary Davis (2008-04-28). "A.M. Best Affirms Ratings of Farmers Insurance Group and Farmers Group Inc". Business Wire (Business Wire). Retrieved 2008-12-03. 
  37. ^ Berg, Jeffrey; Robert Riegel (2008-12-01). "Moody's upgrades Farmers Insurance's insurance financial strength to A2". Moody's Investor Service. Retrieved 2008-12-03. 
  38. ^ "Insurance - Credit Ratings List". Standard and Poor's.,1,5,0,70,0,0,0,0,0,3,0,39,0,4,1.html. Retrieved 2008-12-03. 
  39. ^, Ratings Homeowner Insurance, September 2004
  40. ^ "American Customer Satisfaction Index: Property & Casualty Insurance". Retrieved 2007-10-22. 
  41. ^ "Shop Smart: Ensuring you get the best auto insurance". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. March 12, 2006. : Editors of Consumer Reports considered Farmers Insurance one of the "poorest performers".
  42. ^ "2007 Collision Repair Satisfaction Study". Retrieved 2007-10-22. 
  43. ^ "Farmers Insurance Recognized for Call Center Customer Satisfaction Excellence for a Second Consecutive Year" (Press release). J.D. Power and Associates. 2006-11-08. Retrieved 2007-10-22. 
  44. ^

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