What Does Benjamin Franklin Have to Do with Car Insurance?

Connecticut is famous for many things: Ivy League universities, nutmegs, and a host of important and useful inventions (the helicopter, the artificial heart, and the first vacuum cleaner – to name a few).

The Constitution State was also the first state in the country to offer motorists auto liability insurance. As early as 1925, Connecticut lawmakers required drivers to show proof of financial responsibility before hitting the road.

Car insurance has even older origins than that, however. Long before the first documented auto accident, which occurred in Ohio in 1891, insuring against injury and disaster was first explored by none other than Benjamin Franklin.

Ben Franklin – Insurance Pioneer

Although the idea of insurance has existed for thousands of years and dates all the way back to ancient Greece – when merchants purchased a type of insurance against possible loss of cargo due to bad weather at sea – the insurance industry as we know in the United States today first got its start in Philadelphia in the 1750s.

As a founding member of the Union Fire Company in Philadelphia, Franklin joined with other fire-fighting organizations to form the first fire insurance company in the then-colonies. Members agreed to contribute money to a mutual fund, which would pay out damages for losses to members whose property was damaged by fire.

The insurance company was given the somewhat wordy name: The Philadelphia Contributorship for the Insurance of Houses from Loss of Fire – the fledgling country’s first mutual insurance company. In a time when all homes were lit by candles and oil lamps, fire was a much bigger and more frequent hazard than it is today. A single blaze could quickly devastate a neighborhood.

The First Auto Insurance Policy

Just seven years later, Franklin helped found the first life insurance company. When motor vehicles came on the scene in the late 1800s, auto insurance did not exist. It didn’t take long, however, for accidents to happen.

The country’s first auto insurance policy was issued in 1897 in Dayton, Ohio, when a man paid $1,000 to Travelers Insurance Company for a policy to protect him against liability for injuries or death caused by his vehicle. The policy also paid out in case of property damage to another vehicle. Because motor vehicles were still so new, the policy was actually written as a horse and carriage policy.

In the decades that followed, thousands more car insurance policies were written. Finally, Connecticut led the way by adopting its financial responsibility law in 1925. Under the law, the driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury or property damage greater than $100 was required to show proof of at least $10,000 of liability coverage. Motorists had the option to purchase insurance, provide a bond, or deposit enough money to cover the liability amount.

Connecticut Car Accident Lawyers

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle collision, it’s important to speak to a car accident attorney right away. Call the experienced Connecticut personal injury lawyers at Nugent & Bryant today at (203) 795-1111 for a free consultation.