I thought long and hard on President’s day of a relevant topic to post, but I could not think of an adequate tie-in. However, all those thoughts of men in white wigs reminded me that, although never president, one of the founding fathers of the U.S. is also responsible for starting the modern-day insurance system in the U.S.
In 1751, according to PBS.org, Benjamin Franklin and his Union Fire Company met with other Philadelphia fire-fighting companies to discuss the formation of a fire insurance company. Out of those discussions, the Philadelphia Contributionship was formed, which was the first successful fire insurance company in the colonies. About seventy Philadelphians initially subscribed to the contributionship.
In May 1752, the board of directors, of which Franklin was a member, decided to form an insurance company. Members agreed to make equal payments to the contributionship, which would be used to pay for losses any member would sustain through fire to his property.
Mr. Franklin also proposed other forms of insurance, including life insurance and annuities, according to PBS.org. In his Silence Dogood letters, he recommended insurance for widows and orphans, much like a current-day pension. Late in life, he also proposed crop insurance, based on the same type of organization as the Philadelphia Contributionship.