Okay, I could have just titled this article “life insurance always in vogue,” but to add a universal global influence, I thought I would give it a little french chic just for attention. It is entertaining to see how something catches the eye of a society and in doing so becomes the vogue–everyone wants to be a part of it. Remember the hula hoop and the rubix cube, poodle skirts and skinny legged jeans, the charleston and the twist, the Beatles and the Monkeys, Elvis and Willie Nelson, American Bandstand and the Grand Ole Opry, Star Wars and the Lone Ranger, kids playing cowboys and Indians or the launching of Russia’s “Sputnik” October 4, 1957, followed by America’s “Explorer 1” February 1, 1958, setting the vogue for space exploration. These were all fads whose impact was felt for a while and then passed into the tapestry of life.
While there are other things which stay around forever and in doing so they become permanent fixtures of our social fabric. What would we ever do if suddenly the sound of a train as it travels across our landscape on its iron tracks were to be silenced? The sight of the vapor trail of a jet as it reveals the fact people are moving from place to place as we gaze upon it wondering where the travelers are going? The weather changes and we go from scantily clad attire to clothing which leaves everything to the imagination
Being Vogue in Society
Being envogue in the marketplace is also an integral part of our social fabric. Things like blue jeans, 1950’s vintage cars, hamburgers and hot dogs, Star Wars, single dwelling homes, etc. still draw crowds interested in those particular icons.
Life Insurance Envogue
Something else less glamorous but so much more critical to a family’s financial well-being is the ageless purchase of life insurance to protect a family’s economic future. Though the vehicles used to disseminate this product have changed over the years, the concept has always been the same–the banding together of the resources of a group to replace the resources lost by death to one of its members. It truly is the embodiment of John Donne’s poem “No man is an island”; when one is lost we all are affected. Roman legionnaires had a portion of their salary set aside for the purpose of offsetting the income lost to a family by the death of a fallen soldier. That source along with the fallen soldier’s shield being filled with bounty shared after a victorious battle was given to the deceased’s family in an attempt to offset the loss of income to that family.
Early in the 18th century, 1706, a movement began in America which became the vogue for protecting the earning power of individuals, allowing them to take care of the financial needs of families, business interests, and philanthropic endeavors. Members of the Amicable Society for Perpetual Association founded by William Talbot and Sir Thomas Allen had the first life insurance policies issued on its members. Each member would pay an annual payment per share from one to three shares with consideration to age from twelve to fifty five (started with 2000 members.) At the end of the year an accounting was given of those who had passed away and appropriate portion of those accumulated annual payments were dispersed to survivors of the deceased’s families.
Whether they were responding to social pressure or acting on their own, it is interesting to note five of the officers serving under General George Custer had purchased life insurance policies on their lives prior to going into the campaign against the Plains Indians. Custer himself purchased from New York Life agent Ian Studdart a $5,000 life insurance policy two years and 21 days prior to Custer’s demise at the Battle of the Little BigHorn. The other five officers had also purchased life insurance policies from this same agent with face amounts of $5,000 to $10,000. Each of them had paid an additional military surcharge to regular premium because they were exposed to the additional risk of dying in battle. It would be interesting to know if these six officers had had any discussion regarding their purchases or if it just happened. My hunch is they probably were referred by one of them to the agent who sold all of them their policies. In any event it is very much envogue to have one person purchase something and then refer the purchase to another. One tidbit of interest is all six of these widows turned down the military’s payment given to survivors so that the payments they would have received went to other families who did not have the life insurance death benefits of those six officers. It is also of interest that the face amounts of $5,000 and $10,000 would equate to approximately $500,000 and $1,000,000 in today’s economy.
So it goes today. More than ever before life insurance popularity is on the rise. More and more families and businesses are seeing that financial tool as being an integral part of the financial landscape. The vehicle might be a term, whole life, universal, or variable universal life insurance product but they all have the common intent of replacing the earning power of an individual who has passed away. It is a product which will never go out of vogue; and though the product may change, the intent will always be the same: relieve the financial burden brought on by the loss of earning power of a loved one. Envogue!!!