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Our History

We've Been "Equitable" Since 1935

Roderick Earl "Doc" Ross, Founder, 1935
Roderick Earl "Doc" Ross,
Founder, 1935

In 1931, in the midst of the Great Depression, with widespread unemployment and a sense of hopelessness pervading the land, a young doctor sat down at his desk and designed a plan to help restore the broken spirit of some of his fellow Utahns. The young man was Dr. Roderick Earl "Doc" Ross, founder of Equitable Life & Casualty, a company committed to being The Premier Life and Health Insurer for The Ultimate Generation ... today's Senior Americans®.

As the Depression raged on, it became increasingly difficult for Utah families to meet expenses. Thousands were forced to surrender their life insurance policies, as every penny counted in surviving these incredibly hard times. Too many families were left with the burden of burial expenses upon the death of a loved one, without the means to pay. Doc himself had to borrow money to pay the funeral costs for one of his four sons who died unexpectedly.

Chairman and CEO, E. Rod Ross
Earl Roderick "Rod" Ross,
Chairman and CEO

Doc Ross, a discerning entrepreneur, recognized the need for an affordable way to help families through times of illness and bereavement. A caring, good-hearted man, he committed himself to action, and vowed to help lessen this overwhelming burden. He set out to organize a mutual aid association, also known as a benevolent society. A benevolent society was composed from 500 to 2,000 people who each agreed to contribute $1 in the event of the death of any of its members. His objective became a reality with the organization of The Wasatch and Summit County Benevolent Society in 1931. Doc, while managing the business, sold society memberships door-to-door. The society thrived, but Doc wanted to do more. He turned its operations over to its members to elect managing officers, making it an independent organization.

In 1933, Doc organized the Community Mutual Aid Society of West Salt Lake County to serve a larger, more populated area. Doc convinced local banks to collect the dollar from each of his members. Membership cards were issued. Members would walk into the bank and contribute to the family of a deceased fellow. The bank would act as depository, free of charge. Doc Ross recruited good people to represent his mutual aid association and to sell memberships door-to-door. The dollar they collected was their commission. On a good day, a representative could earn seven or eight dollars. Ten percent of what was collected was used to pay for administrative, overhead and management expenses.

By May of 1935, Doc had acquired 2,100 members. Earlier that same year, the Utah Legislature passed a bill that placed benevolent organizations under the jurisdiction of the Utah Insurance Department. The new law stipulated that members pay a premium of $1 per month. Doc invested $20 in 2,000 penny post cards. He recruited his wife and sons, Ray and Dave, to help him get these first premium notices out to the members. Through the family handwriting these first premium notices, Equitable was born.

Equitable's home, 1948-1983
Equitable's home, 1948-1983.
The historic Eagle's Lodge
Building

On June 6, 1935, Doc incorporated the Community Mutual Aid Society of West Salt Lake County under the name of Equitable Mutual Aid Protective Society with its home office located in the heart of Salt Lake City. The name of the company was changed to Equitable Mutual Life Insurance Company of Utah on March 7, 1936 and again on May 19, 1938 to Equitable Life & Casualty Insurance Company. The company was headquartered in the historic Boston Building in Salt Lake's landmark Exchange Place.

In the ten year period from 1940 to 1950, Equitable acquired nine companies, including: Associated Life Insurance Society, Western Mutual Association, Mutual Protective Association, Olympus Mutual Aid Society, Voluntary Benevolent Association, Guaranty National Life Insurance Company, Mountain States Insurance Company, and Allied Mutual Life Insurance Company. Equitable was demutualized in 1947, becoming a stock company with the objective of earning profits for its shareholders. With this change came product diversity and growth which enabled risk coverage to be expanded to include life, health and income protection.

Family and succession were part of Doc's plan. Doc wanted his sons and daughters and their children to succeed him in managing and growing the company. Doc realized that the legacy he would leave his children had to include not only business knowledge, but also a commitment to caring; in essence, the spirit in which policyowners, agents and employees would think of themselves as being part of The Equitable Family. He wanted Equitable to be known as a "family business". Doc believed that the character of The Equitable Family would set the company apart and would be a significant part of its success.

Equitable's current corporate headquarters
Equitable's corporate headquarters,
Triad Center, Salt Lake City

By the mid-1930's, Doc had welcomed his sons Dave and Ray into the business to assist him. They carefully hired good people with strong work ethics, not unlike themselves, to man positions in the home office. To represent the company, they selected honest, caring independent agents that would put policyowners first. Ray served as assistant general manager and director of agencies, recruiting, developing, and managing an independent agent sales force, until 1977. Dave was the secretary and treasurer and helped in managing the home office until 1978. Doc, as president, zestfully managed Equitable through his mid-70's when he retired due to ill health prior to his passing in 1970.

Both Dave's and Ray's children also became integral to Equitable's management team and made significant contributions to the company's growth. Ray's son, Earl Ross, served the company for 40 years, becoming Chairman & CEO in 1987. Upon his retirement, Earl was named Chairman Emeritus and serves as an honorary board member. Earl's four sisters also held various positions within the company and continue to serve as honorary board members.

Equitable since 1935
Equitable since 1935

Today, Dave's son, Earl Roderick "Rod" Ross is Equitable's chairman, and chief executive officer. Having worked for the company for over 30 years, Rod is committed to Equitable's future: "I'm proud to carry my grandfather's legacy into the future. Equitable remains dedicated to our pioneering vision of helping America's seniors and their families live happier and more financially secure lives. We put seniors first - always! We have embarked on an aggressive yet disciplined growth strategy, to grow bigger and better by focusing on what we do well. We continue to build on a tradition and legacy of quality, integrity and success."

Equitable is a financially solid, nationally recognized leader in health care for Senior Americans, licensed in more than forty-four states and Washington, D.C.

Equitable began offering Medicare Supplement products the very year Medicare itself was implemented.

Equitable agent gathering in 1958
Equitable agent gathering in 1958,
(center top), Doc and Ray Ross

The bedrock of Equitable's financial strength rests on a strong capital base and conservative investment portfolio. This gives policyowners peace of mind, knowing that the company has the long-term ability to keep its promises, and to be there for them when needed. This financial strength enables Equitable to meet the changing needs of customers, while engaging in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

From the very beginning, Doc Ross' plan was to leave a legacy to The Equitable Family - agents, policyowners, employees and loved ones. He launched the company with a mission that transcends excellence ... "to do well by doing good." Doc's legacy and his mission live on today.

Equitable Life & Casualty - the second oldest and one of the largest insurance companies domiciled in Utah - has never been stronger, and its future never brighter.