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Whole life or not whole life: that is the life insurance question – Part 4

Part 4: Companies develop products for everybody

In Part 3 of this series, we discussed the formation of the modern insurance carrier. These were almost exclusively mutual companies, owned by policy holders.

In Part 4 we will discuss the creation of new products, to reach out to new classes of consumers. Think Advisor has this to offer:


‘In 1875, the Widows and Orphans Friendly Society was founded in Newark, N.J. with a single product: burial insurance. It was the first company in the United States to make life insurance available to the working class. That company eventually became Prudential.

1911: Group life insurance was born when Equitable Life Assurance Society (now AXA Equitable) wrote a policy covering all 125 employees of the Pantasote Leather Company without requiring individual applications or medical exams. In 1912, Equitable organized a department to promote group coverage and soon began insuring employees of Montgomery Ward.

“1965: Serviceman’s Group Life Insurance was enacted into law to provide life insurance to members of the armed forces on active duty. The insurance is underwritten by a pool of commercial insurers, and the federal government pays administrative expenses and the extra cost resulting from the increased risk of military duty.”

These product innovations made life insurance affordable for lower- and middle-class consumers. The polices made it possible for many bread-earners to provide for their families, and receive a burial with dignity.”

In our next and last essay of this series, we will look at contemporary trends.