Honoring Black History Month: Pioneers in the Insurance Industry
In celebration of Black History Month, we recognize the African Insurance Company, established in 1810 in Philadelphia and considered to be the first Black insurance company, according to the Library of Congress (see link below). Insurance as a business/career has long stood as an industry vital to the development of communities through employment and education, as well as of course the mutual protection of one’s neighbors from common causes of loss.
“Following publication of an 1896 study, which used statistics and eugenics to argue that African Americans were more prone to disease, the mainstream insurance industry pointed to the work as justification to discriminate against them. African American insurance companies grew as traditional white companies increased premiums and reduced the size of the policies they offered African Americans, making insurance difficult or unaffordable for them. Many early African American insurance companies focused on “industrial insurance” or “burial insurance” and employed people in the community to sell and administer insurance contracts.”
We honor insurance pioneers Aaron McDuffie Moore, John Merrick and C.C. Spaulding for their dedication to the eternal insurance philosophy of ‘neighbors helping neighbors.’ Their contributions helped form the pillars of the insurance business we know today, including real estate; property and life insurance; philanthropy; education; banking; and more.
We also recognize modern-day pioneer Jerald L. Tillman and the National African American Insurance Association. Founded in 1997 by Tillman in Cincinnati, Ohio, the NAAIA currently has 17 chapters, including three in Union Mutual’s writing territory: New York, NY; Hartford, CT; and Boston, MA. Its mission centers on the empowerment of African American insurance professionals, attracting talent to the industry and sharing of information. The NAAIA recently released a comprehensive study with Marsh entitled, “The Journey of African-American Insurance Professionals.”
The NAAIA offers several engaging resources on its website, including a webinar section with on-demand presentations on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion; Agent Roundtables; Branding; and more.