The History of Life Insurance

Life insurance is a part of everyday life. Whether we like to admit it or not, life insurance is an incredibly crucial aspect of our lives, and is almost a necessity, although some do not treat it as such. And because it has become a staple in most people’s lives, it begs the question: where did it start? How did life insurance get from its humble beginnings to a multi-billion dollar industry?


According to reports, life insurance, or at least the basic idea of it, has been around since 100 B.C.E! During this era, Roman soldiers would all chip in to pay for the funerals of fellow fallen soldiers. These soldiers continued this trend for hundreds of years, eventually getting to the point of offering stipends to the families of those who had passed.


Flash-forward to the 1600s. European shipowners and merchants needed to protect their assets, so, Edward Lloyd’s Coffee House in London became something of a hub for marine insurance. It only grew from there, becoming an incredibly popular industry. And if the name Lloyd sounds familiar, that’s because Lloyd’s coffee house eventually became Lloyd’s of London, a premiere insurance market in Europe.


Later on, the concept of life insurance was further evolved with a slew of major insurance companies taking form during the 1800s. New York Life, Metlife and Guardian Life are a few of the insurance companies that came to life (no pun intended) during this period. And in 1875, the Widows and Orphans Friendly Society (now Prudential) was founded, becoming the first insurance company in America to offer life insurance to the working class.


The decades following World War II saw a tremendous boom in the industry. According to an article from, a staggering 72% of the adult population in America had a policy in some form or another.


Today, we know the life insurance industry as the juggernaut that it has become. With an estimated revenue of $848 billion dollars in the U.S. alone, it’s safe to say that life insurance is not going away anytime soon. It is also important to remember to go out and purchase a policy.