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Choosing Life Insurance

A Brief History of Life Insurance Awareness Day


At AAFMAA, we're always talking about the importance of life insurance, and how it can protect your loved ones and give you peace of mind regarding their financial future. Despite that, what we don’t usually talk about is National Life Insurance Awareness Day, which has its origins in the 20th century. Yet, if you go all the way back to the late 1700s, the concept of "life insurance" was beginning to be considered. However, it was not well understood — and the first life insurance policies in the country were already being created — even if they were less available to the general public.

Timeline of Life Insurance in America

May 2, 1759, marks the Corporation for Relief of Poor and Distressed Widows and Children of Presbyterian Ministers, the country's first life insurance company, was established.

In 1762, one of the very first American life insurance companies was established in Philadelphia. The Presbyterian Synod of Philadelphia created the company to support the families of deceased ministers.

In 1812, one of the early American life insurance companies was established; it was named, "The Pennsylvania Company for Insurances on Lives and Granting Annuities," It was among several organizations that represented a milestone in expanding the availability and acceptance of life insurance.

In 1868, another layer of protection became available through such policies in the form of "accident insurance."

In 2014, Liran Hirschkorn, an independent insurance agent, submitted May 2 to the National Day Calendar organization — of which the registrar would ultimately declare that to commemorate the anniversary of the availability of life insurance, the date would be officially added as a "National Day" to be observed annually.

Moving Forward in the Field

One of the most significant developments in the history of life insurance occurred in the mid-20th century when group life insurance policies were introduced. This allowed employers to offer life insurance coverage to their employees as an employee benefit. As the industry grew, more companies were established and life insurance grew to become the standard way for people to safeguard their loved ones' financial futures.

As the adoption and popularity of life insurance grew and expanded, so did the variety of types available, as well as the policy structures themselves. Now that we identify May 2 as National Life Insurance Awareness Day, it serves as a way to reflect on (and raise awareness of) the importance of making life insurance decisions. This recognition day has also possibly contributed to the variety of policy styles that have been introduced in recent years. From companies and non-profit associations such as AAFMAA, individuals, companies, and families can now choose from life insurance options such as term life insurance, whole life insurance, universal life insurance, and many other types of insurance policies to suit their needs.

Term life insurance, for instance, is designed to provide coverage for a specific period, usually ranging from around 10 years to a few decades. Whole life insurance, on the other hand, provides coverage for the entire life of the policyholder. It is a more expensive option but offers the benefits of lifelong coverage and the potential to accumulate cash value over time.

Related: Learn more about term and whole life insurance policies.

Whatever type of life insurance policy you and your family may need, AAFMAA is here for you — every day of the year. If you’d like to speak with an AAFMAA representative about life insurance coverage options for you and your family, please call 1-800-522-5221.