Life insurance has been around since the days of ancient Rome and Lloyd’s of London. Lloyd’s of London got its start as a coffee spot for sailors?
The origins of the concept of life insurance, as we know it, can be traced to ancient Rome 100 B.C. Caius Marius of the Roman military created a burial club among his troops, so when there was an unexpected death of a club member, other members would pay for the funeral expenses.
The first insurance company in American colonies was formed in Charleston, S.C., in 1735, but it offered only fire insurance at first. It didn’t add life insurance until 1760.
In 1837 there was a panic that resulted in a financial crisis that spurred a shift toward mutualization for life insurance companies. Between 1838 and 1849, only one life insurance company was considered a public company and raised capital based on it's stock. Around 17 mutuals, requiring minimal initial capital, were chartered.
The spread of mutuals as well as developments such as like legal changes allowing women to purchase life insurance and a cultural shift away from preachers who demonized life insurance as “gambling”. This created a boom period for life insurance companies. Many of today’s largest life insurers were formed in this period, including New York Life, Mass Mutual, John Hancock and MetLife.
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