Civilization began taking shape of the idea for insurance long ago when people began to take precautions against loss at the hands of the unexpected. When people began to pay partial amounts for goods and services, promising the rest of the payment upon safe and certain delivery, the idea of insurance began to take form. While the history of life insurance cannot be pin-pointed with an exact science to a specific date, studies reflect that life insurance may have been established in various forms up to over 5000 years ago.
The Beginning of Life Insurance in America
The first insurance company in America did not provide life insurance, but it was founded in South Carolina in 1735. The oldest life insurance company in America is the Presbyterian Synods, founded years later in Philadelphia in 1759 and the first ever life insurance policy purchased in the states was in 1761. During the next few years life insurance was not favored by many religious groups and it was difficult to achieve a working understanding. Life insurance did not really begin to become popular until the 1830s.
Women’s Rights Blocked Benefits
Until 1840 women were not allowed many benefits from life insurance, even though women and children were the focus of life insurance companies for advantageous selling strategies. Prior to 1840, married women were banned from entering into an insurance contract on their own, preventing them from purchasing life insurance for themselves or on behalf of their husbands. And even if a husband purchased a life insurance plan for himself and awarded his wife and children as the beneficiaries, creditors would come in and claim the husband’s debt using the life insurance fund.
Women’s Rights, Law Passed
In New York on April 1st 1840, the law was passed that gave women the right to purchase life insurance on behalf of her husband and banned creditors from claiming the life insurance payout. In addition, if the wife were to pass away before her husband, the life insurance policy was redirected to the children with the same provision against creditors. Many states followed suit over the next few years and took the same law into effect, allowing women and children to benefit from life insurance protection.
American History, Rise in Insurance Sales
As time has progressed throughout history and unpredicted horrific events occurred, the purchase of life insurance increased. Statistics indicate that with such tragedies as Pearl Harbor, dated December 7th 1942, and the World Trade Center bombings that took place September 11, 2001 the amount of life insurance policies sold increased. It is no secret that such terrible events leave people thinking about the unexpected and what would they would inevitably leave behind should they experience an accidental or sudden death. In addition to horrific events, war has also historically impacted the rise in life insurance sales in the United States as soldiers prepare to leave for battle.
Prior to coming to the United States, life insurance was prevalent around the globe in various forms. Burial clubs were started in ancient Rome as a way of paying for ones final expenses and helping surviving family members with financial needs. Roman burial clubs died off for a time with the fall of Rome and were recreated in India some years later. There were also insurance societies or groups that were formed for the same reason, to protect against total loss. These groups provided financial assistance to take care of funeral costs and assist the living family members left behind with homes and other expenses.