A Glance at The History of Life Insurance

Table of Contents

old insurance pictureCan you imagine living in a world where there wasn’t anything in place to protect you from a possible catastrophe? With such unpredictability in life, it is prudent, even necessary to have insurance along the way.

The role of insurance(s) has come a long way. From basic indemnity protection and financial assistance to the widowed for burial costs, to what we have today; Whole Life Insurance policies that provide insurance benefits even while the insured is still alive.

Insurance will always be in demand because people and businesses are continuously looking for ways to minimize risk. For every type of insurance, there was an initial incident that fostered the idea that protection was needed.

In the Beginning


The first example of Life Insurance benefits are recorded, and were known as The Presbyterian Ministers Fund. The main objective was to aid women who had been widowed to pay for funeral costs and to be able to sustain raising their children in the absence of a husband.

These first benefits were subject to death benefits only. Purchasing similar benefits outside of a death was not an option. Initial sales tended to be subject solely to members of the Presbyterian Church.

However, as world and life events continued to happen, it became apparent that such financial assistance for the unexpected was necessary for more than just widows and orphans. Throughout history, the types of insurance offered has been expanded in reaction to new risks.

Thus the timeline of evolved Life Insurance companies and the long surviving Whole Life Insurance policies began.

1820There were seventeen stock life insurance companies in the state of New York alone

1845 – New York Life Insurance company is established; insuring individuals, families and business through such world events. The Civil War, 1906 San Francisco earthquake, 1929 stock market crash, and 9/11.

1847 – Penn Mutual Insurance company is established. In 1932 Penn Mutual issues the first retirement income policy, and in 1992 life insurance in force reaches $30 Billion.

1848 – Accident Insurance became available for railway passengers (registered as the Universal Casualty Compensation Company). The insurance was sold as a package deal to passengers when they purchased their railway tickets

1851 – Mass Mutual Insurance Company is established

1873 – Innovations within the industry of Life insurance began to take shape. Such as, it cost only pennies a week, and many Life insurance companies were able to protect against lapses in accounts by having their agents visit customers at their homes each week to collect the premium.

1875 – The American Express Company established the first private pension plan in the United States.

1880 – One American Insurance Company is established.

1880 – AUL Insurance Company is established.

1887 – Ameritas Insurance Company is established.

1901 – The Afro American life insurance company is established allowing African Americans to be able to afford basic life insurance benefits.

1904 – MTL Insurance Company is established.

1925 – Ordinary Life Insurance surpassed all other types of life insurance available in America.

1935 – The Social Security Act comes into effect providing unemployment compensation and old-age benefits.

1950 – 9.8 million private sector workers were covered by a pension plan. This number rose to 18.7 million a decade later.

1978 – The Revenue Act of 1978 established qualified deferred compensations plans; known as 401K’s. This act created simplified employee pensions.

Present Day

Much has changed in the world of life insurance in the last two centuries and even more so since the 1970’s.

The days when agents visited customers door to door to collect weekly premiums are relatively non-existent. The internet has perpetuated the industry to an entirely new level of customer care.

The majority of individuals, and even businesses, deserve to look at Whole Life Insurance policies instead to build personal wealth and plan for retirement.

It may be time for you to evolve as well when it comes to how you incorporate Whole Life Insurance into your retirement. We encourage you to contact your agent today to ensure that you are prepared and keeping up with the way Insurance has changed.


Read: Banking on Long-Term Success

Watch: The Financial Climb

Listen: The Wealth Standard Radio Show


Q: What is a brief overview of the history of life insurance?

A: The history of life insurance dates back to ancient civilizations, with early forms of insurance used for burial expenses. Over time, life insurance evolved into a financial tool for providing financial security to families and loved ones.

Q: How has life insurance evolved throughout history to meet changing needs?

A: Life insurance has evolved to offer a wide range of policies and options, including whole life, term life, and universal life insurance, to meet the changing financial needs and goals of individuals and families.

Q: What role has life insurance played in shaping financial planning and security over the centuries?

A: Life insurance has played a crucial role in shaping financial planning by offering protection, wealth accumulation, and estate planning solutions, providing individuals with peace of mind and long-term financial security.

Table of Contents

Related Articles

A Wealth Maximization Account is the backbone of The Perpetual Wealth Strategy™