Don't expect to see tractors in the parking lot of Farmers Group (dba Farmers Underwriters Association). The US subsidiary of Zurich Financial Services provides insurance management services to members of the Farmers Insurance Exchange, Truck Insurance Exchange, and Fire Insurance Exchange -- which together form a leading US property/casualty insurer. Its Farmers Management Services unit doesn't own the exchanges, but receives a fee acting as the companies' attorneys-in-fact. It chooses risks, distributes policy statements to customers, collects premiums, and provides other non-claims related services. Farmers is also the holding company of Farmers New World Life Insurance and specialty insurer Foremost Insurance.
Other holdings include Farmers Re, which provides reinsurance to the Farmers Exchanges and other activities and Bristol West Holdings, a 2007 acquisition and a provider of nonstandard auto insurance in more than 20 states. Additionally, Farmers Financial Solutions provides such products as mutual funds, life insurance, and annuities, and the firm's Farmers Action for Communities of Tomorrow (F.A.C.T.) program extends services to underserved areas of California that include urban districts.
Historically Farmers has stuck to insuring folks west of the Mississippi. However, 21st Century sells policies across the country, including such risky areas as Florida. Armed with the insight that half the US population is on the other side of that big river, Farmers geared up to move east in 2011, starting with Pennsylvania. Other major East Coast markets are on its "to-do" list.
Farmers distributes its products through a network of some 15,000 tied and independent agents. At at time when the insurance industry is having trouble attracting new agents, Farmer's has placed an emphasis on training its agents and employees in an effort to reduce turnover and grow its pool of agents. Zurich Financial has exported some of Farmer's agency practices back to Europe to boost productivity.
Overall, Farmers accounts for almost 35% of Zurich's operating profit. For cost effectiveness, the company shares services with other US parts of its parent company, including information technology, accounting, human resources, and auditing.
The Farmers Insurance Group of Companies was founded in 1928 with the formation of automobile insurer Farmers Insurance Exchange. A growth in the demand for insurance services led to the establishment of the Fire Insurance Exchange and the Truck Insurance Exchange.
▲ Show Less▼ Show Full Description