A merger of two Farm Bureau insurance companies won't affect Utahns who hold policies and probably will offer better options for all types of insurance, according to Vic Saunders, vice president of communications for the Utah Farm Bureau Federation.

The family of companies is operated under the umbrella of Farm Bureau Financial Services, holding companies run by the farmer's organization.Recently, Farm Bureau Life Insurance Co. (which conducted business in Utah, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Wisconsin and South Dakota) merged with Western Farm Bureau Life (which did business in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Wyoming).

"The combined group is more powerful and gives the ability to have more resources from which to draw," said Saunders. "For the Utah Farm Bureau policy holder, nothing changes. It's the same service they've had all along - and hopefully it will be better."

Assets for Farm Bureau Life and Western Farm Bureau Life total $2.7 billion, and the life insurance currently in force is more than $15 billion.

The combined organization this week began offering a package of 10 products as part of its new common life product portfolio.

Farm Bureau members can buy life, property/casualty, health and disability insurance through their organization as well as get help with such things as financial and estate planning.

Saunders said it is difficult to pinpoint how many Utahns are participating. "We have about 21,000 Farm Bureau family members. I would hazard a guess that most of them have Farm Bureau insurance in one form or another."

Saunders said the Utah company was formed in the late 1930s to provide insurance to rural residents because they couldn't get insurance any other way. "In 1984, it merged with the Iowa-based Farm Bureau insurance company to form a much larger, much more stable company. Now we've picked up these Western states, most of which have much in common with Utah," Saunders said.