The history of life insurance is dated by many as far back as before the time of Christ. History tells us that in 100 B.C. a Roman military official named Caius Marius, established a burial account for his Roman troops. The plan was simple, when a member died, other group members would pay for the funeral. The idea of shared expenses for military burial became popular and lasted mostly to the end of the Roman Empire.
From there, the trail cools down until an Englishman became interested in records of deaths in the 17th century. John Gaunt, established the first life and death records which became the basis for our modern mortality tables. A mortality table estimates the number of deaths per any age group in any specific year. Here is a link to the social security life expectancy chart: https://www.ssa.gov/oact/STATS/table4c6.html
Towards the end of the 17th century the first official mortality tables were established to help calculate what a possible fee would need to be charged in order to provide some form of death benefit.
In 1759, the association of Presbyterian Ministers banded together to establish a mutual benefit company based in Philadelphia for the benefit of Presbyterian ministers and their dependents. The earliest versions of the mortality tables were used in calculating estimated premiums and benefits.
Other organizations followed and soon the concept of life insurance became part of American culture. By the mid-1800s, life insurers began appealing to the idea that a husband, as head of the house, should provide a policy to protect his wife and family. Once the concept of family protection was established (as well as dependable premiums) as a moral duty, it was then that the life insurance industry experienced dependable growth. The New England Mutual Life Insurance Company began in 1844 focusing on more modern and dependable mortality tables as well as the introduction of accumulation of funds within the actual policy.
The public understanding of the benefit of life insurance made the front page in every newspaper around the world when the Titanic sunk in 1912. One company alone, The Northwestern Mutual, paid out almost $1 million in benefits. The publicity of this level of benefits set the demand for life insurance from the public to a new high.
By the 1930s, the combined death benefit of all life insurance in force in America topped $100 billion. The number of policies in force equaled more than 120 million, about the same as the entire population of America.
In 2013, more than 275,000,000 life insurance policies were in force in America providing protection for American families. .