American Term Life Insurance History – Actuarial, Statistical and Company Info
- An Essay on Probabilities and their Application to Life Contingencies and Insurance Offices (Augustus de Morgan) 1838
This is a book on probabilities applied to insurance, by the namesake of ‘de Morgan’s laws’. De Morgan’s laws are something that every actuarial student learns (or is tested on anyway) in their first actuarial exams.
This specific copy has been gifted a number of times. In 1851 it was given to an F. Needham as first prize in mathematics. Upon F. Needham’s death (apparently in 1874) it was passed in remembrance of F. Needham to Basil Field by one of F. Needham’s descendants. Basil Field then passed it along in 1904 to someone else. Basil signed it ‘an old pupil and friend’ so it would appear he passed it along to a former teacher or professor of his.
- An Introduction to the Theory of Life Contingencies, M.A. Mackenzie, N.E. Sheppard, 1931
This is an introductory actuarial textbook used at the University of Toronto in the 1930′s.
- Elements of Life Insurance, Miles Menander Dawson, 1902
An excellent technical treatment on all sorts of subjects related to life insurance including ratemaking, joint life, rated applicants, endowments and so on. Written by Miles Menander Dawson who is not only a fairly well known author of the time, but is also the consulting actuary behind the original A.M Best book! A.M Best’s bio mentions Miles Dawson in some detail along with reference to something called ‘The Armstrong Affair’.
Also of particular importance are two mortality tables at the back of the book. One is the American mortality experience which I’ve seen in numerous places, the second is called ‘The Actuaries Table of Mortality’ which I’ve not seen elsewhere.
- The Business of Life Insurance, Miles Menander Dawson, 1905 Section 1
The Business of Life Insurance, Miles Menander Dawson, 1905 Section 2
Another fine textbook by the original consulting actuary with A.M. Best. He suggests it’s been written for the life insurance buying public, but while this book isn’t overly technical in nature, it’s certainly technical enough to confound the casual reader. And why a consumer would read a 400 page book on life insurance is beyond me. This might explain the excellent ‘like new’ condition this book was in when I recieved it!
- Annual Report of the Superintendent of the Insurance Department (Life, Casualty and Assessment Insurance) of New York, Robert A. Maxwell, 1888
Pretty much about what you’d expect given the title. A report for the year of all the life, casualty and assessment insurance companies doing business in New York state. What’s interesting here is that they actually list l things stocks, bonds, and collateral loans held by the company – giving the entire list of these items with names and amounts. I can’t imagine you’d see that level of detail today.
Looking for experience tables? This is the book. 40 pages of American Experience for different products (at 3.5%). Table after table, no commentary.
- Fifth Annual Report of the Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company (1850)
The dry stuff here is that it’s just an annual report from an insurance company from 150+ years ago. There’s the list of directors and the various tables of annuity, insurance, and endowment rates. But read the report – there are some fascinating glimpses into the time period….They indicate they made it successfully through the previous year’s cholera epidemic and paid all their claims. Married women can now insure their spouses. Up to 10,000 insurance ona single life. And perhaps most interesting are their travel restrictions. Insured lives may not travel south of the Virginia/Kentucky state lines or west of the Mississippi between July 1 and November 1.
- Cases on the law of insurance, George W. Goble (1931)
This is a textbook with case after case after case of legal disputes relating to insurance, including commentary, descriptions and judgments. Of particular interest are some mortality tables – one that I’ve never seen before. Near the back of the book is the American Experience Mortality Table (1860) as well as the British Office Life Tables 1863-1893. See section 4 just before the index for these tables.
This was a large book so I’ve split it into 4 sections for manageability:
Cases on the law of insurance section 1
Cases on the law of insurance section 2
Cases on the law of insurance section 3
Cases on the law of insurance section 4
- Report of the Superintendent of Insurance for the Dominion of Canada (1895)
Some pretty neat stuff here. First up are all the different types of insurance no longer even in common existence. Plate glass, steam boilers, and so on. The other interesting section is the part on insurance cases for the year. One case, two chaps commit murder for the insurance money – the report notes that they were sentenced to hanging and that the sentence was subsequently carried out. Another report talks about a couple committing insurance fraud which unravelled after he later took out a large insurance policy on here life. I guess that’d be enough to make anyone a bit jumpy!
- Fourteenth Annual Report of the Insurance Commissioner of Virginia (1919)
This book is a nice summary of all the insurance companies of all persuasions doing business in Virginia in 1919. It shows assets, liabilities, premiums, business, and so on. The life section also shows a columns for expected and actual mortality experience for each company for the year.
- Pocket Register of Life Associations (1896)
This is a handy pocket sized compilation of all the business and fraternal associations for the five years ending 1895. For each year of 1891-1895 and for each company it shows a table with Income (assessments and annual dues, admission fees and other receipts), Expenditures (claims paid, agent commissions and examinations fees, expenses of management), Financial Condition (invested and other assets, liabilities), Insurance Account (Number of certs, amount written during year, amount in force at end of year) and death rate per 1000.
There’s a ton of data here, the death rates per 1000 on some of these seems quite high (though admittedly some of the companies don’t have many certs).
- History of the Insurance Company of North America (1885)
History of The Insurance Company of North America going back to 1792. As a testament to the longevity of the insurance industry, it seems they are still around today operating as ACE-INA.
The book itself has some nice pictures in it of the founders and company buildings. This was one of the more fragile books I’ve scanned, the pages were coming loose from the bindings though the pages themselves were in great shape. Ultimately there’s a number of good scans of pictures and insurance documents going back to into the 1700′s.
- Fourteenth Annual Report of the Commissioner of Insurance of Virginia, Fire, Marine, Life and Miscellaneous Companies and Fraternal Associations (1919)
A very dry numerical report. No comments, not much text, no personal insight into the industry for the time. It does however have listings and information on every tiny little insurer of any type doing business in the state at that time.
- Proceedings of the Celebration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company of Philadelphia (1897)
You thought your meetings were boring? How about a meeting where the minutes go on long enough to fill a 200 page book? That’s what this book is about – the actual meeting! It’s actually a vivid snapshot of the industry at the time. It presents all the speeches made at the time as well as laying out all the celebrations themselves. The banquets, sessions, it’s all there. There’s some nice photo’s as well. It seems that greased hair parted in the middle and huge walrus moustaches were required for somber insurance executives of the time.
- Mathematics of Life Insurance, Dowling (1925)
A straightforward entry level actuarial textbook. Not much has changed in the intervening years at this level of actuarial science, this book is a ‘Bower’s Light’. The tables at the back are interesting – there’s the American Experience Table of Mortality as well as Hunter’s Makehamized American Experience Table of Mortality. I haven’t contrasted this mortality with today’s, I’m sure it would be telling.
- The Constuction of Mortality and Sickness Tables, A Primer, W. Palin Elderton, Richard C. Fippard (1914)
This is really more of an essay than a mathematical texbook. It’s intended as a primer for those without knowledge of the subject and they’ve attempted to keep math out of it.
- The Mathematical Theory of Investment, Ernest Brown Skinner, (1913)
Another example of as much as thing change, the more they stay the same. This book is very similiar to my personal favorite actuarial text “Theory of Interest” by Stephen Kellison which is currently used in the Society of Actuaries exams in the U.S. and Canada. One difference is the inclusion of a section on logarithms. Today, we’ve got a button for that. The book also includes another example of the American Experience Table of Mortality.
- The Fraternal American Table, The American Insurance Union, (1926)
This booklet was an absolute gem of a find. It’s put out by the now defunct ‘American Insurance Union’ and talks in depth about the Fraternal American Table. In addition to a variety of mortality tables, it contains discussions from actuaries talking about various aspects of the tables.
- Calculus and Probability for Actuarial Students (1927)
An early example of a textbook for the first exam of the Institute of Actuaries.
- An Elementary Treatise on Actuarial Mathematics (1932)
Thank you to the Institute of Actuaries for providing permission to duplicate this book. This is another example of an early actuarial textbook – in fact it’s the replacement for the textbook above.
- Best’s Insurance Reports, Fire and Marine, Twenty First Annual Edition (1919)
A.M. Best is a staple of the insurance industry and has been for nigh on 100 years. This report is similiar to those produced by the company even today – with one noteable exception. A.M. Best is well known for it’s company ratings (assigning A++ or B- to companies) and these ratings are conspicously absent from this report.
The PDF file for this document is huge – over 2 gigabytes. Perhaps the single biggest thing I took away from this document was to remember not to buy any more books to scan that are approaching a 1000 pages each.
Note that I’m trying out new optical character recognition software with this book so the format’s a bit different. The table of contents page isn’t formatted as nicely, but the html pages are formatted (and converted to text) far better – and they include navigation so you can click through the pages.