The American Term Life Insurance History Project – Consumers

  • Accidents, Emergencies, Poisons (1895)

    I scanned this as an example of early advertising techniques used by the insurance companies. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, insurance companies sent out books for everyday household use to their policyholders. Things like cookbooks and this medical treatment guide were commonplace.

    The ailments and treatments in this book are a real snapshot into the daily life of people from the late 1800’s. Things like treatment of tobacco (as a result of direct injection! Apparently that’s not a good thing.), smallpox, and all manner of mineral poisoning like copper, silver, etc. are all listed here. Some of the treatements are a bit gory, but I guess when national medical treatment and standards aren’t available you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to get better.

  • Life Insurance, Its Early History, Great Extent, and High Purpose (1867)

    A full page article expounding on how wonderful life insurance is and how great some companies are. From the Chicago Republican newspaper, Saturday September 28, 1867.

  • Guardian Assurance Policy (1894)

    This is actually a temporary insurance receipt for a fire policy for a building in Oak Lake, Manitoba. This paperwork is issued to show coverage until the application is received by the insurer and a policy is issued. This practice is still in use today for life insurance policies.

  • Met Life 20 Pay Life Policy (Industrial Policy) (1929)

    Some very interesting contrasts with policies that are typically sold today. The policy comes with Accidental Dismemberment and Accidental Death as part of the policy, except Accidental Death having exclusions for mining and railroad work. These are features typically sold as riders today. Cash surrender values appear to be guaranteed – they’re stated right in the policy. And while the policy is clearly a participating policy as voting rights are embedded in the policy, no mention is made of dividends of any sort being paid.

  • Prudential Child’s Policy; 20 Year Endowment (1930)

    Another interesting contrast with today’s policies. Neither 20 year endowments nor individual children’s policies are commonly sold today. And where children’s policies are sold, they’re not typically a seperately named product. This policy is for a 3 year old child with a premium of 3 cents per week and an increasing face amount that scales up as high as $50!

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