The History of Life Insurance

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The history of Life Insurance is not a very hard one to understand. Today, Life insurance is simply the contract between a single individual and an insurance company dictating that the company is to pay the policy holder’s beneficiary if the insured dies. But where did the idea of being insured at death come from? Who were the first people that implemented this idea? What did they do when the amounts of money were not as high as those of the companies in the life insurance industry today? When did the actual life insurance industry started? All these are pretty interesting questions and the fact of the matter is that some of them cannot be answered to a high extent; however we do know a lot about the history of this wonderful thing that today covers people from all around the globe.

The First Few Signs in Life Insurance History

Historians have been searching for the true start of life insurance as we know it, but they have first deciphered the baby steps that finally ended in the actual death benefit payment. According to the Financial Shopper Network in Ancient China sailors would prevent pirates from stealing all their goods by carrying portions of other ships cargos, this way if a pirate stole the cargo of one ship, the entire load would not be lost. A little bit later in Babylon traders simply gave loans that had to be repaid when the contents of the trade were delivered safely.

So what does this have to do with life insurance? Well both of those civilizations were preventing losing it all. They were doing little baby steps that would help in the long run. Life insurance as we know it however; started in the city of Rome. The people of this highly advanced civilization decided to form what they called “burial clubs”. These clubs were designed with one sole purpose, in case of an unexpected death of a club member; everyone else would be willing to pay for their funerary expenses and help the family of the survivor with some money. The concept of life insurance as they knew it ended dramatically in the year 450 A.D. when the Roman Empire fell and its practices were abandoned for a long period of time. It is also important to highlight that many historians agree that about at the same time of Rome, the Indian Empire and its citizens also formed “burial clubs” in order to pay for funerals and help people with expenses. A clue of this according to the Financial Shopper Network is that the “yogakshema, the name of Life Insurance Corporation of Indian’s Corporate Headquarters” refers to the Vedas.

Britain and It’s Footstep in Life Insurance History

Modern life insurance however did not start until the British decided to try and make it work. The practice of life insurance was banded in the entire continent of Europe except for England and it was exactly the British that started the most prominent life insurance companies known to the European countries today. It was in the middle of the 17th century that in the streets of London, England a group of people met together at Lloyd’s Coffee house and decided to come about with life insurance ideas. The coffee house was a famous place for merchants, ship owners and traders and therefore it would be the perfect place to discuss life insurance knowing that most of those people had money.

Life Insurance History in the United States

With the British knowing the basics of life insurance and the things that could help people like the life insurance industry, they decided to give it a try in the United States of America. After talking about how they would decide on coming about with the first life insurance company, they decided to base it on the well known British model at the time. The first life insurance company in American soil was founded in the Southern Colony of Charleston, South Carolina in the year 1735.

About 20 years later the entire colonies saw that this was a good idea, so the Presbyterian Synod of Philadelphia decided to sponsor the first life insurance corporation in the United States, which wrote its first policy in the year 1761. The bad thing about life insurance at that time was that many religious groups opposed it because it would be like anticipating one’s own death and with the religious fervor in the North American Colonies at the time; it proved to be quite a challenge to get the whole thing started.

The actual life insurance industry as we know it really took off in the year 1840 because those religious groups calmed down and didn’t interfere with governmental affairs anymore. Another big reason that life insurance companies came about proved to be the New York and Chicago Fire’s that killed a whole bunch of people in each of the two cities. After this more and more life insurance companies started coming about and in the 1900’s business really grew. People wanted to be protected in case of an accidental death.

The 1900’s proved to be an era of growth for the life insurance industry. Two wars went on and many people decided to insure themselves to establish a secure monetary future for their families. It is also said that after an attack on the country more people buy life insurance policies. Nobody can contest that simply because after Pearl Harbor a bunch of people panicked and decided to open policies in fear for their lives. The same is true after the turn of this century when the attacks on the World Trade Center took place. People decided that not having protection was not worth it and that a little premium each month was better than leaving their families in economic burden.

Life Insurance Today

As you can see life insurance has moved quite a lot from when it first started in Rome and India. Major corporations with great world interaction and power have surfaced. Companies that have a lot to say in both the economic and political world have come to exist. As you can see the market right now is in a boom and there are many life insurance companies coming to life. Who knows what will happen in the future, but as of now customer should be happy with their options and the thousands of companies that they can choose from!

Source by James J. Robinson