EMC 100 Years

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Looking Back At

The Last 100 Years

EMC began as an association of business people providing workers’ compensation coverage to Iowa manufacturers. Today, EMC ranks among the top 60 insurance organizations in the United States, selling its products solely through independent insurance agencies in more than 40 states.

With those dedicated agents and our more than 2,100 employees, we are celebrating this significant milestone—a century of providing superior personalized service, stability and strength.
A century of success.

celebrating hundred years
EMC Insurance Companies, Celebrating 100 Years


Dedication. Entrepeneurial drive. Pioneering spirit.


On April 21, the Iowa Manufacturers Association (IMA) voted to incorporate Employers Mutual Casualty Association of Iowa (EMCA) in anticipation of an Iowa workers’ compensation law, which passed in 1913. The IMA thought it would be better to insure Iowa companies in Iowa, and that it would cost less to establish their own mutual company to insure their members. On April 28, EMCA was certified as a legal entity "for the purpose of mutual insurance." The company’s first location was in the Crocker Building on Fifth and Locust Streets, Des Moines, IA.


EMCA advertised nine types of liability coverage: Manufacturers’ Employers; Contractors’ Employers; Public, Vehicle or Teams; Automobile; Elevator; General; Owners’ and Contractors’ Protective and Contingent.


First employee, Mattie P. “Peg” Burroughs, was hired to answer the phone. She ended up staying with the company for 30 years and by that time, she was the superintendent of the Automobile Policy Writing Department.


On July 1, 1914, EMCA had its first workers’ compensation claim when a block of ice slipped from a Consumers Ice Company worker’s tongs, crashing onto his “great right toe” and required medical attention. This claim was filed the first day the Iowa Employers Liability and Workers’ Compensation statute became effective, and the first day EMCA could legally do business as a workers’ compensation insurer. View claim »

EMC Insurance Companies, Celebrating 100 Years


Commitment to safety. Communication with agents. A new name. And World War I ends.


EMC entered the automobile liability business with auto coverage for commercial fleets driven by policyholders’ traveling employees.


EMC printed The Employer, a newsletter for Iowa employers that promoted the company and mutual insurers in general. The cover story in the first issue—"Who Is Your Friend?"—introduced EMC as a friend who looks out for employers’ interests. Thirteen accident prevention tips were included in the issue, such as including guardrails on stairs, using machinery safety guards and goggles, installing proper lighting and "danger" signs, designating fire exits, keeping explosives off of the premises, and not retaining careless employees.


EMCA officially changed the company name to Employers Mutual Casualty Company at the Annual Meeting on Jan. 9.


EMC stepped into the other side of reinsurance, assumed reinsurance, or reinsuring insurance written by another company. Learn more »


EMC ventured into Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri before the end of the decade.


A safety engineer was hired in the Accident Prevention Department to act as “the eyes and ears of the Underwriting Department.” The engineer’s job was to inspect and report on newly insured policyholders and to provide recommendations and safety training for their foremen and supervisors.

EMC Insurance Companies, Celebrating 100 Years


Emphasis on accident prevention and education. Changing company leadership. And World War II ends.


Assets reached $4 million.


Assets reached $5 million.


Oscar M. Nanfeldt was hired as EMC’s first chief safety engineer to head the new Accident Prevention Department and oversee EMC’s safety programs. He said four criteria were crucial to successful accident prevention: management’s interest and education, the education of supervisors and employees, prevention through engineering, and the ongoing enforcement of the program.


The first annual Conference and School for home office and branch professional employees was held in Des Moines. Company leaders and occasional outside speakers presented topics covering the wide range of company operations and current developments affecting the industry. The Conference and School continued until 1970.


To support the war effort, EMC held more than $4 million in government bonds.

EMC Insurance Companies, Celebrating 100 Years


Moving into insurance for homes and personal autos. And moving into a new home office.


Assets reached $25 million.


EMC began giving awards to large client companies with outstanding safety programs and records. First to receive the award was Lennox Furnace Company of Marshalltown, Iowa. Other recipients were the Des Moines Register and Tribune; a manufacturing company and an iron works, both in St. Louis; a transportation company in Racine, Wis.; and a workshop for the blind in Charlotte, N.C.


EMC went international when its British Columbia, Canada Branch opened. By 1967, EMC was the second largest writer of auto premiums in British Columbia. Two years later, Canada passed a no-fault auto insurance plan, and EMC pulled out.


EMC entered the property insurance business, offering fire, burglary, personal liability, personal property and more. One year later, this coverage was available in 21 states. Early policies included a home protector package (fire, burglary, personal liability, personal property and more) and a standard homeowner’s policy.


A new family auto policy for private passenger cars was offered by EMC.


A 20-Year-Club was formed with 18 charter employee members who had worked at least 20 years at EMC.


Assets topped $50 million.

EMC Insurance Companies, Celebrating 100 Years


A life company. New branch offices. Computer technology. And man lands on the moon.


On Jan. 15, Robb Kelley (named EMC president in 1963) wrote a note to himself: "Things to do today—develop a life company," to make EMC a one-stop facility for offering a complete insurance package: property, casualty and life. Employers Modern Life was incorporated in August 1962 and was licensed to do business early in 1963. The company is now known as EMC National Life.


On April 24, EMC employees celebrated the company’s 50th anniversary simultaneously in 24 cities with coffee, cake and early 20th century costumes.


EMC installed an IBM 1401 computer processing unit, card punch, printer and memory core—reported to have "speeds that stagger the imagination!" (EMC installed first mainframe computer, an IBM 650, in 1957.) The company continues to be recognized for its technology advancements.


EMC was licensed to do business in all 50 states.

EMC Insurance Companies, Celebrating 100 Years


Building a new home office. Expanding loss control services.


Assets reached $100 million.


60th anniversary celebrated with opening of new 10-story office building at 717 Mulberry St., Des Moines, IA.


Loss control services expanded to include noise monitoring, safety videos and an environmental health lab.


New motorcycle policies announced with a motorcycle display in the Home Office lobby. This coverage soon expanded to include other recreational vehicles such as snowmobiles and mopeds.


EMC Underwriters Ltd incorporated to place unusual business, such as event cancellation or no-shows, sporting event or fair rainouts, Fourth of July celebrations and pumpkin festivals. EMC Underwriters Ltd wrote seven policies to cover parts of Pope John Paul II’s visit to Des Moines in October 1979.

EMC Insurance Companies, Celebrating 100 Years


New companies. A new president. And 75 years as a company marked by Halley’s Comet.


Two new companies were incorporated: EMC Reinsurance Company for reinsurance business and EMC Risk Services, Inc. to handle third-party administration.


Assets reached more than $500 million.


EMC celebrated its 75th anniversary, marking the appearance of Halley’s Comet. The comet last appeared when the company began in 1911. The next time Halley’s Comet appears, EMC will be 150 years old. See photos from EMC branch office celebrations across the country celebrating 75 years.


Employers Mutual Charitable Foundation (now the EMC Insurance Foundation) was established to provide a consistent level of giving.

EMC Insurance Companies, Celebrating 100 Years


A 19-story building opens. EMC executives enter Insurance Hall of Fame.


Assets reached $1 billion.


EMCC adopted "EMC Insurance Companies" as its trade name.


The Special Investigations Unit formed to detect, deter, investigate and prosecute insurance fraud.


Robb B. Kelley is the first EMC executive inducted into the Iowa Insurance Hall of Fame. Other EMC executives have also been inducted into the Hall of Fame, read more.


EMC’s first website was launched to help agents do business with EMC.

EMC Insurance Companies, Celebrating 100 Years


Business built on a promise—Count on EMC®.


The Count on EMC® brand was introduced, representing the core values upon which EMC Insurance Companies has built its reputation: comprehensive protection, superior service and financial stability.


Assets reached $2 billion.


EMC National Life Company was formed by the merger of Employers Modern Life and National Travelers Life.


Introduced EMC Choice® products for business owners and tailored coverages for specific industries. By 2006, commercial insureds (including government entities such as cities and schools) accounted for more than 85 percent of the company’s business.


Continued improvements to the EMC website make it easier for customers and agents to do business online. Agents can quote business, submit applications, find policy, claims and billing information, and more on www.emcins.com.


Assets topped $3 billion.


EMC joined Trusted Choice® brand initiative that highlights the benefits independent agencies and brokerage firms offer consumers: choice of companies, customization of policies and advocacy support.


A new EMC website is introduced.

EMC Insurance Companies, Celebrating 100 Years


A trusted company. Celebrating a century of success! And the 39th and final launch of Space Shuttle Discovery.


EMC Insurance Group Inc. was named to Forbes 100 Most Trustworthy Companies list.


EMC purchased the Hub Tower at 7th and Walnut in downtown Des Moines.


EMC celebrates 100 years in business.