Founded in Spokane, Farmers New World Life celebrates 100th year

Founded in the bustling Western boomtown of Spokane, Wash., in 1910, Farmers New World Life, now headquartered on Mercer Island, is celebrating its 100th year in business this month.

”We are 100 years proud,” said Farmers Life president, Thomas White. “Of the thousands of organizations incorporated in Washington in 1910, only a handful remain today.”

There are now 13,795 employees companywide and 695 employees working in Washington state.

“Few businesses have had the vision, the financial stability, and the customer loyalty needed to weather the Great Depression, two World Wars and radical economic changes of the past 100 years,” notes F. Robert Woudstra, CEO of Farmers Group, Inc.

“I am proud to say, since Farmers New World Life’s founding, it has grown to provide over $230 billion of insurance protection, with more than 1.5 million policies in force today.”

White noted milestones in the founding and growth of the company since 1910, which include:

• New World Life Insurance Company was founded by seven Spokane businessmen in 1910.

• The company was originally named Roman Catholic Life Insurance Company, but was soon renamed New World Life after the founders raised more than $1 million and sold their first policy covering a $20,000 mortgage on a church.

• In 1930, the growing company moved its home office from Spokane to Seattle. In 1942, New World Life purchased the Alaska Building, the first Seattle skyscraper.

• In 1953, Farmers Underwriters Association purchased a 52 percent share of the life company. The company was renamed Farmers New World Life, and with additional Farmers agency force behind it, sales skyrocketed.

• In 1958, the company moved to Mercer Island into the building where City Hall is now.

• In 1977, Farmers purchased the remainder of the outstanding shares and became full owners of the combined company.

• After a land swap with the city in 1982, the company moved into its new, custom-built five-story office on Mercer Island. The land used to include a bowling alley.

• In December 2005, the property was sold to investors, but the company signed a 15-year lease to remain in the building.

• The company reached $200 billion worth of life insurance coverage in 2006, and has continued to increase this number every year since.

“Farmers Life has reached 100 years through its agents, management and employees, growing the company by treating each customer as family,” notes Farmers Group, Inc. Chairman of the Board and CEO of Zurich Americas, Paul N. Hopkins.

The company here on the Island is an active participant in community affairs from, among other things, the annual Rotary Run to lending its parking lot each year for the Lion’s Christmas tree sale.

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