A Northwest institution since 1949

Robert J. Handy - Founder, CEO from 1936-1984

Robert J. Handy, a Seattle journalism and math teacher, founded PEMCO Insurance in 1949. Originally its purpose was to insure teachers who were members of School Employees Credit Union of Washington , which Handy had created years earlier and remains affiliated with PEMCO today.

Excited by the prospect of creating a financial institution with a heart, Handy was one of the first to take advantage of the credit union concept in Washington. In 1936, just three years after the Washington Legislature authorized credit unions, he founded Seattle Teachers Credit Union (now School Employees Credit Union of Washington).

Handy supplemented his income by working for a general insurance agency owned by a friend. He sold auto insurance to educators who came to the credit union for new car loans. In 1949, Handy founded Public Employees Mutual Insurance Company (PEMIC), a precursor to Public Employees Mutual Casualty Company (PEMCO), to offer home fire and burglary insurance and automobile collision, comprehensive, fire, and theft insurance.

In 1950, Handy incorporated PEMCO to write liability insurance. In 1977, PEMCO merged into PEMIC after a change in state law no longer required separate companies for property and liability insurance.

In 1963, Handy started PEMCO Life Insurance Company to sell low‑cost life insurance to credit union members.

As different as we are individually, everyone at PEMCO shares a commitment to doing the right thing. It's who we are. By delivering a world‑class customer experience, we make a real difference to our policyholders – and those who we "meet by accident" – each and every day.


PEMCO Webster and Stevens Collection

Visit the online gallery of historic photographs from the PEMCO Webster and Stevens Collection at the Museum of History and Industry.