A Century of Protection
By Pekin Insurance · Apr 1, 2021 ·2 min read
One hundred years ago, a group of farmers from Tazewell County, Illinois, decided to create an insurance company that would provide high-quality, affordable auto insurance to their fellow Farm Bureau members. On April 1, 1921, The Farmers Automobile Insurance Association was officially formed, and with it, a seed was planted that would spend a century growing into the Pekin Insurance® we know today.
Our branches have spread from a single county in Illinois to 21 states, and plans are already in place for further geographic expansion. The single product we originally sold has sprouted so many buds that we now offer a full range of auto, home, commercial, and life policies, and we have some exciting new products in the works that we can’t wait to tell you about. A single part-time employee blossomed into the more than 800 friendly faces who are always ready to help our agents and insureds. Borrowed office space in the basement of the Tazewell County Courthouse took root in our current Home Office complex, Parkway Claims Office, and seven Service Offices across six states.
In spite of all the changes the last 100 years have brought, some things haven’t changed, including our commitment to our values. We’ve always been:
- Quick. We started offering 24-hour claim service in 1932 because we recognized how important it is to respond to our policyholders quickly in their time of need.
- Innovative. When we purchased our first computer in 1957, it was too big to fit through the door, so we came up with the innovative solution of removing a second floor window and delivering IBM’s RAMAC 305 with a forklift.
- Nimble. When our Home Office was built in the 1960s, we left room under the floors for additional wiring because we wanted to be able to easily adapt to new technologies like computers.
- Tech-Savvy. Our first foray into the world of technology came in 1949 when we adopted an automatic billing system using an IBM accounting machine that was much more efficient than typewriters in creating premium notices.
- Reliable. We introduced our Catastrophe Team in 1988 and our Mobile Claims Office in 2008 to make sure policyholders who experienced catastrophic storms would receive the best claim service possible, even in the worst situations.
- Sensible. We’ve sponsored many safety initiatives over the years to encourage sensible driving, including the Farmers Auto Safety Theatre, a trailer that traveled around Illinois in the 1940s to show movies promoting highway safety.
- Respected. In 1921, a local newspaper reported on the election of our first board of trustees by saying that they are men “who we can trust to work for the best of all of us.”
As we look back on the last 100 years, we’re also looking forward to the promise of the next 100 years. And we know that none of it would be possible without the support of the community of Pekin. That’s why we’re so happy to give back to the community through our volunteer program. In 2020, Pekin Insurance employees donated nearly 750 hours of their time to organizations like the Boys and Girls Club of Pekin, TAPS, the Pekin Park District, and the D.A. Points Junior Golf Championship. We’re proud to be one of the city’s largest employers, and we look forward to many more years of giving back to the community where it all began. So from everyone at Pekin Insurance, thank you, Pekin, for making our first 100 years a success!
The Farmers Auto Safety Theatre traveled around Illinois during the 1940s to show movies promoting highway safety.
The employees of Pekin Insurance are proud of the many ways we’ve supported the community over the last 100 years and excited to continue that tradition for the next 100.
Sales Manager L. Keith Holloway lost a bet and had to pay up by riding a donkey through Pekin.
Pekin Insurance executives arrived at a 1971 cornerstone laying ceremony for our latest building addition in appropriate style.