Shuman Roy is an entrepreneur, business owner, and musician. He started RoysNoys, LLC in 2013 as a music production and education service company. He also offers small business consulting and advisory services to help businesses get from start-up mode to turn-key operations. Shuman earned his M.B.A from the Stern School of Business in 2001 and has an undergraduate degree from Manhattan College in ...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Joel...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Oct 21, 2021

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Farmers Insurance recently saluted itself in recognition of their University of Farmers, their frequently advertised insurance school, which took 1st place in Training magazine’s 11th annual Training Top 125 awards program.

This all but forced us here at TTAI to take a closer look into the University of Farmers and give you the skinny on what it’s all about. Insurance companies don’t often have their own universities, so we wanted to find out what it was all about.

Is this a joke?

The commercials seem to imply this is some sort of a joke (see the meatloaf commercial or the one about the car/boat/house thing).

But nope, there is actually a physical university where people can attend classes. We’re unsure if there’s a Greek system though…

So why would Farmers take this approach? Well, many national chain insurers have sunk to the level of turning insurance into a joke for the purposes of their advertising.

Our guess is they’re trying to relate to the younger, more internet-savvy consumers, who have begun buying insurance online rather than visiting the old brick-and-mortar shops seen on every street corner in America. The market is changing, and many insurance companies are beginning to feel the pressure of needing to adapt. That is why such a wide range of companies are now offering apps, websites, and  more tech-savvy based options.

So, the school is real, but what really goes on there? It certainly isn’t an accredited four-year college.

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What exactly is the University of Farmers?

The University of Farmers, officially dedicated in 2006, is a 120,000 square-foot training facility in Agoura Hill, California.

There are twenty state-of-the-art classrooms within the facility in which they train their insurance claims and management staff, as well as their current and prospective agents on the ins and outs of their respective fields.

The claims training facility appears to take up a good bit of space, including a two-story, full-sized mock home and a mock auto bay that can house up to 20 damaged cars.

Similar to other universities nowadays, Farmers also offers thousands of online classes for their employees to complete while residing in other states…in addition to the work they complete at the facility itself.

Why does Farmers have to have a university?

For our purposes, we’ll discuss solely the agent training afforded by the university, as that seems to be the focus of the advertising.

Anyone in their right mind would want insurance professionals to be knowledgeable. And in fact, there are typically a wide array of hoops that a person has to jump through in order to be able to become an insurance professional. But why have a special school…beyond each state’s requirements?

Well, captive insurers, such as Farmers, State Farm, and Allstate, will make just about anybody an agent, with authorization to sell their insurance products. In fact, it’s not necessary to have a background in the insurance industry to become an agent with many of these insurers.

Sure, you may have to pass a personality test, and maybe even prove that you have over 100 ‘leads’ (see friends and family) to become an agent, but they profess to do the rest.

‘Have your own business’ is how it’s advertised! They’ll teach you how to sell auto insurance policies to your friends and neighbors…if you aren’t able to meet the sales goals after that point, grandma’s new Farmers policy is simply transferred to an agent who can ‘make the grade’ and you’re back to what you were doing before you convinced your 100 ‘leads’ to purchase coverage from Farmers.

Is the University of Farmers necessary?

Not according to the Department of Insurance in any of the 50 states in our great nation.

You must pass a written exam to become a licensed insurance agent in your state, as well as complete continuing education courses every two years to maintain your licensed agent status.

And most independent insurance agents, those who represent multiple companies, cannot earn the right to sell products such as auto policies on behalf of insurers without proving years of experience and knowledge in the field of insurance.

The story is a little different from independent agents when it comes to captive insurers though…which may explain the presence of the university. Make sure when you’re looking into what coverage options are being offered to you, that they’re coming from a licensed agent.

This is definitely an oddball case, as most auto insurance companies do not have any sort of ‘university training’ that they offer to their agents, but it was still worth looking into, so that you had more of an inside scoop.

Our suggestion is to look at all the insurance options out there, before settling for an auto insurance policy that is included within a gimmick. With how the market is changing, shifting gears from physical stores to online websites, individual policies are becoming more common, even if it means you have to do a lot of the ‘homework’ yourself to find proper insurance coverage.